By Cristina Rutherford.
Paulo Coelho quotes, “A teacher isn’t just someone who teaches something, but someone who inspires students to give their best in order to discover what they already know.” This past month the three K-8 centers of Doral nominated their Teacher of the Year (TOY). All three teachers nominated truly inspire their students and make a difference in our schools.
Second Grade EFL Teacher from Dr. Rolando Espinosa
“Since I was a child I always dreamt that one day I would become a teacher. I graduated from Barry University “Summa Cum Laude” with a Bachelor of Science and a major in Elementary Education. In 2005 I moved to Doral, and in 2008 I had the great opportunity to work and help inaugurate Dr. Rolando Espinosa K-8 Center. In DRE I have taught the EFL Program (Extended Foreign Language) in Kindergarten, first and second grades.” Ms. Otura believes a great teacher should inspire students to reach their highest potential as well as to have high expectations for all children regardless of race, ethnicity, or social class. She is focused in fostering a positive outlook on their lifelong learning and preparing them to be responsible and educated adults. It is important to keep parents involved in their child’s progress and she feels she has very good communications skills. According to Otura one of the greatest challenges of being a teacher is meeting the needs of all the students in the classroom, and for that she gives 110% of dedication to her students. “I use new and innovative ways to present lessons to help encourage my students’ learning. I love to see the reaction in my students’ faces when I wear funny glasses, wigs, and especially when I turn into “Mrs. Offrizzle”, my twin farmer sister. She frequently visits our classroom to complete fun activities. She also embarks the students on imaginary explorations across the curriculum.” Ms. Otura adds, “I believe that one of the greatest satisfactions gained from the teaching profession is doing an important work for the common good because children are our future. I feel fortunate to have a career where I am surrounded by children. I love their innocence, I love to see young faces with eyes that light up when they learn or discover something new. I could not think of anything else that could possibly give me more satisfaction than teaching.”
Fifth Grade Math and Science Teacher from John I. Smith
For Ms. Molina, the process of teaching is extremely rewarding, whether it is explaining an idea, working with small groups, or designing instructional units. “Like a pianist moving through a favorite sonata or a lawyer cross-examining a witness, I often draw my deepest satisfactions in and from the act of applying the craft or art of teaching”, states Molina. Her role as a teacher is to open the door and invite her students to learn, with a positive attitude and regular encouragement. She inspires her students to believe that they will and can achieve their goals, whether intellectually, socially, and/or physically. “I also have the responsibility to create an environment that is calm, safe, pleasant, and orderly that is conductive to learning. I make sure that students are engaged in academic tasks and keep the attention on these instructional activities”. Molina concludes by saying, “knowing that being a teacher has dignity and importance, it enables me to understand that teachers are respected, indispensable, and loved. Knowing that the single greatest effect on student achievement is not race, not poverty – it is the effectiveness of the teacher, it motivates me to overcome any of challenges I face in order to improve and further my teaching profession. What teachers do is nothing short of a miracle that humbles and inspires us all.”
Physical Education Teacher from Eugenia B. Thomas
Coach Perez, as everybody knows her, feels very fortunate to have been teaching Physical Education for 20 years. As the fifth of seven children her family spent a lot of time outside playing sports. On weekends she taught religious education so when the time came to decide what she wanted to do for the rest of her life she combined her two passions: sports and teaching. Perez-Daniel says. “I have found great joy in my profession, and I have recognized that this value far exceeds the return that one receives from this vocation. I love my profession, and I greatly enjoy teaching.” Teaching has its challenges especially in the physical education field with childhood obesity, hypertension, and diabetes on the rise; it is important for students and parents to learn the importance of being healthy, and fit. Coach Perez adds, “As a teacher I want to instill the passion in students that will help them recognize the benefits, and importance of lifelong learning; through their participation in health, fitness, and life skills, learned in an environment of teamwork.” Her day to day work fills her up with great satisfactions. Coach Perez explains, “When a student comes to me and says, Look Coach Perez-Daniel , I can do it!, with excitement in their voice, and a smile on their face, I know that what I am doing is something very special. If I can help in increasing my students’ fitness level, confidence, and self-esteem, then this is an amazing personal and professional accomplishment.” She likes to lead by example and is always outdoors jogging or riding bike. Her best advice for parents is to exercise with their children, even if it is a simple walk around the neighborhood. “It is a great way to have quality family time, while improving physical fitness, health, and having fun.”