A moment of gratitude for our teachers

Thirteen years averaging 13,000 hours – that’s how much time a child in the United States, on average, spends in school. This doesn’t include after-school care.

At the College of Arts, Sciences & Education we prepare world-class teachers who inspire future generations. The 2019-2020 school year has faced challenges unlike any other with the transition to distance learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet the teachers keep on teaching. Their efforts serve as a reminder to the dedication of teachers who not only teach, but also inspire and support their students in intangible ways. So for those teachers, this year’s Teacher Appreciation Week comes with a little extra gratitude.

We asked current and former students to reflect on teachers who influenced them. Here’s what they had to say:

“Gary Shotwell at Lawton-Chiles Middle School taught the earth science Course and nurtured my inquisitive mind. He pushed me into the science realm and is one of the main reasons I loved science. The most memorable aspect of Mr. Shotwell were his famous ties, he would wear a different tie every day. Rumor has it he must of had at least 300 ties. When he passed away in 2014 during my sophomore year of college, his memorial was packed and filled with so many students from all ages.” Isabela Corzo, B.S. in Biological Sciences ’15

“My 4th grade teacher, Mr. Mancebo, has always told me to not give up when times get hard because it’s only temporary. His advice has gotten me through college at times when I felt like giving up and it’s really helped me grow as a person.” Alexandra Abud, B.A. in Psychology ’19

“I had many teachers at FIU that were inspiring, but Dr. Cozza, Dr. Stojanovic and Dr. Makemson were always ready to teach with a smile on their face no matter the time. Even with hurricanes, they would find the best plan available for us to ensure we met our competencies. They transmitted so much passion about their fields that after finishing each class I would want to be one of them. I hope I’m as happy with my career as they are and that I can transmit the same joy that they shared with me.” Monica Reyes, B.S. in Biological Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies ’18

To those who went on to pursue a career in education, we asked, what inspired you?

natalie leon

“My brother inspired me to become a special education teacher. Seeing him work with his therapists opened my eyes and made me realize that I would love to help them learn and become more independent. It’s been a dream come true working with so many beautiful students with disabilities at Our Pride Academy!” Natalie Leon, M.S. in Special Education ‘20

elizabeth cid calabrese

“I had the greatest music teachers growing up [ranging from a childhood piano teacher to the choral professor at FIU]. I remember each one of them. Each one unique in their own way, but all extremely passionate about what music could do for the soul of the human being and in turn the catalyst change it can bring to the community and the world. They changed me in so many different ways. I can only hope to do the same for my students. Paying it forward. Elizabeth Cid Calabrese, Music Teacher and Choral Director, B.M. in Music Education ’11

kiara fernandez

“It was my first semester at Miami Dade College, my goal was to get my bachelor’s in education so that I would be able to get my master’s in speech and language pathology. But after just one day in Professor Uhle’s class, I was sold on becoming a teacher. He spoke about education in such a beautiful way that there wasn’t any other career that came close to feeling right.” Kiara Fernandez, B.S. in Early Childhood Education ‘20

alex almanzar

“I was lucky enough to have a lot of inspirational teachers in my life, but what really made me want to become a teacher was wanting to work with children every day. I always thought I had to ship myself off to a third world country and help others when I realized that there are plenty of children to help right here in the U.S.” Alexandra Almanzar, Special Education Teacher, M.S. in Early Childhood Education ’19

Be sure to follow @FIUCASE on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week by using #WhyITeach and #ThankaTeacher.