Superintendent’s Progressive Teacher Awards: Four Top Teachers are from Doral!

 By Dominique Barba.     

Ms. Marta Maria Arrocha (4th grade), Ms. Gladis Romagosa (3rd Grade Gifted) and Ms. Carolyn Crawford (4th grade) from Eugenia B Thomas K-8 Center and Jesus Cabrera (ESOL and Language Arts teacher) from Dr. Rolando Espinosa K-8 were among 120 teachers who received this important reward, for their hard work, dedication and for demonstrating increased student learning gains.

On October 3rd at Miami Beach Senior High School 120 top-ranked teachers received big checks in a surprise ceremony, wrapping up the Miami-Dade school district’s first step into performance pay.  The 120 teachers received a total of $786,000.

For the 2010-11 school year, Miami-Dade district officials negotiated a tiered system with the teachers union. Under the system, about 85% of teachers received some money.

They could qualify based on School-wide performance, Team Performance, and the work of their individual students.

The fourth and top category recognized the top 10 math and reading teachers in six regions, including a separate region for the district’s most struggling schools. Those teachers showed the highest, consistent student gains over three years.

 “We leveraged the financial benefit of Race to the Top (RTTT) funding through negotiation rather than imposition”, Carvalho said.  “By doing so, we are able to recognize teacher performance tied to student achievement”.

Doral Family Journal took the time to talk with several key people of this event. Their message is inspiring and we want to share it with our readers:

“It is a true pleasure for me to be part of the special recognition three of our teachers received.  When I received the call to report to Miami Beach Senior High School with three of my fabulous teachers, I knew it was a very special honor although I didn’t exactly know what they were in for… It was my privilege to join Ms. Arrocha, Ms. Crawford and Ms. Romagosa in this joyous occasion.  Our superintendent Mr. Alberto Carvalho honored them and 117 other teachers for their outstanding dedication, hard work and for increasing and maintaining a rigorous learning gain. Eugenia B. Thomas K-8 Center certainly is proud to have such dedicated and caring professionals that not only set the standards high for everyone to follow, but also who care about each individual student”, said Mayra B. Falcon,  EBT K-8 Center – Principal


Mrs. Arrocha

“I was part of the first PTSA board at Eugenia B. Thomas K-8 Center and I was a Volunteer mom. Due to my involvement and commitment to the school, I was encouraged by the principal, Mrs. Falcon, to become a substitute instructor and later on to become certified as a teacher.  I went to school at the University of Texas at Arlington where I pursued an undergraduate degree in Criminal justice and a Masters in Political Science/Public Administration. I am currently a Reading and Language Arts Fourth Grade Teacher.  I have been teaching at EBT K-8 Center for the past ten years and am a proud resident of the City of Doral.”

About the Award, at first I was surprised and am bit embarrassed.  I recall it was very difficult for me to get up to receive the award and recognition; however I cannot deny feeling that I was thrilled and extremely proud of myself and my students. Then, I immediately realized that this honor was not only achieved because of the hard work and effort of my kids and me, but instead it was possible due to the fabulous team work that is displayed by all the Fourth Grade Teachers especially our Grade Level Chair and my personal partner for the past few years, Grace Palomino.  Last but not least, the wonderful support that we receive from our administration and the parents.

I like to be a teacher because it is a job that I look forward to everyday when I get up in the morning.  I am not going to tell you that it is an easy job, there are many challenges not only academically but also in regards to building character traits that will result in responsible human beings.  Think about the duty and power we have every day in our hands, we change lives and future in a minute by the way we react and respond to our students.  Teachers must be role models.   The best way to teach someone is through example.  If a 12th grader would approach me asking about the teaching career the first thing I would tell her/him is that this is a vocation and ask. Do you really have the call and passion? The gratification is not just monetary but emotional.  We need good teachers because without them our nation would not move forward, may I add that I love my job!

My message to the parents is that there is no better investment than the one they do in their child’s education.  The students must remember to always give their 100% effort and put their heart into everything they do. I tell my students something my parents always told me “Material possessions come and go but what you learn cannot be taken away from you”.


Mrs. Crawford

“I teach fourth grade language arts/reading to the TEAM and Inclusion Classes at Eugenia B. Thomas K-8 Center.  I begin my journey of teaching as a parent volunteer at Coral Park Elementary.  I then became a paraprofessional for several years until I was encourage by the principal, Ms. Verson, to make the leap and go back to school and become a teacher.   I went back to school at the age of 35.  With the help of a scholarship through a Native Indian Minority Fund, I graduated from Nova Southeastern University with a degree in Elementary Education with honors.  I have proudly worked at Eugenia B. Thomas K-8 Center for the past 11 years.

When I received the Race to the Top Award, I was elated.  We were invited to something we knew nothing about!  Not only was I truly surprised, but the entire auditorium filled with deserving teachers were equally thrilled when the superintendent announced that everyone would leave with at least 4,000 dollars!    It was nice to have my hard work recognized.   Only 120 teachers in Miami-Dade County qualified for this award by meeting certain criteria set by the Race to the Top Committee.  It meant that my students achieved a level of progression that met the criteria set by the committee.  Although this award was an individual award, I realize that it took the entire Eugenia B. Thomas K-8 Center team to truly achieve these goals.  I wish there was some way that our entire school could share in the awards that were given.

I enjoy being a teacher because I can make a difference in a child’s life.  As a teacher, I have the opportunity every day to help my students become better students, better classmates and productive members of society.  If a twelfth grade student asked me about a teaching career, I would encourage them to pursue their dreams.  Like any other profession, teaching has it rewards and its heartaches.  I would tell them that they will not become rich being a teacher, rather the reward of having a student come back years later being a successful member of society can not be measured in dollars and cents.

My message to the Doral community and its students is that I am grateful to be a part of a community that is so caring and dedicated to the children. I want to tell the children of the Doral community to DREAM BIG and work extremely hard to make that dream come true. Good things come to those who GO for it!”


Mrs. Romagosa

“I have been a teacher in Miami-Dade County Public Schools for 12 years. During the first four years I worked in an inner city school in Wynwood. I had the honor of working with Gifted students who lived in homeless shelters, motels, but who came in every day with their homework completed, their uniform hand washed by themselves, and looking forward to learn with a gleam in their eye knowing that if they tried their best and succeeded in school they could make a difference in their own lives and not struggle as their parents did. I joined the EBT K-8 Center family in 2003, and asked myself how I could make a difference to this population who seemed to have everything already. What would I teach them that they didn’t already know? I learned very quickly that all children have needs no matter if their socio-economic background is more stable. They still need to be taught to have goals, and to challenge themselves. They need to learn that hard work does pay off. I have been blessed to work with many families that are truly educated and dedicated to their children. Working at EBT has also challenged me and taught me the true meaning of what it is to be a professional. The way the administration runs EBT K-8 Center is to the highest standard. I am very happy and proud to be a part of EBT –K-8 Center.

First of all I would like to thank our principal, Ms. Falcon for her support. She was genuinely happy for us and proud. Without Ms. Falcon sitting with us on that day, the experience would have not been the same. I also would like to thank the Fourth Grade Team. To work with a group of teachers that is dedicated and that teach with their heart, makes a difference in my teaching career. I felt proud when I received this award. It was a great honor to be recognized in this way. In my opinion, the determining factor for receiving this award was that 90% of my students during the last three years have shown learning gains through their FCAT scores.

I love being a teacher because I can make a difference in a child’s life.  I can teach them not only academics but about how to be a better person. I think that teachers have the opportunity to show children about kindness, about having good values, and showing respect towards others. These things plus being strong academically is what I consider having an education. It is not only about getting As on your report card, but about who you are as a person, what goals you set for yourself and how you act towards others. I would tell a 12th grade student that the teaching career is about giving and about really making a difference.

My message to the Doral community and its students is that I am grateful to be a part of a community that is so caring and dedicated to the children. I want to tell the children of the Doral community to DREAM BIG and work extremely hard to make that dream come true. Good things come to those who GO for it!”


Jesus Cabrera

“I have been teaching for 33 years. I have taught English, Spanish, and Italian as foreign languages in different countries: Cuba, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, and the United States [Mississippi and Miami]. I have taught at different levels: middle school, high school, and college. I currently teach at Dr. Rolando Espinosa K-8 Center and at Miami Dade College, West Campus. I am certified in English 6-12, ESOL k-12, Spanish K-12. I am also reading-endorsed.

Teaching has always been my passion. I am a very strict teacher; however, my students get to respect and love me because I put passion, rectitude, but also kindness into what I do.

About the award he said: “Neither the principals nor the teachers who were at the meeting knew why we were there. We only knew it was for an award, period. Then Mr. Carvalho got on the podium and explained that this was to prize the teachers whose students obtained the most gains in the FCAT through three consecutive years. That we were going to be awarded with a check…, which that ready to be handed to us.

It was the first time in my life that I was awarded monetarily with such an amount! I felt thrilled because our work of years was finally recognized and prized.

Teaching is a profession, not a job. Teaching is half an art and half a science. Teaching is shaping a generation to become responsible and capable citizens. Thus, to be a teacher you have to feel the vocation to carry out this noble endeavor. For me, I followed the call. I loved school since I started in kindergarten.

My message to the Doral community, especially to the parents, is that they can play a pivotal role in their children’s education, especially by encouraging their kids to read more and pay attention to math, the two core subjects that will prepare them for succeed in college. Learning doesn’t always take place in the classroom; learning is a volitional urge that human beings feel to absorb what interests them”.

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