Tribute to Teachers: Marlen Lanza of Howard Drive Elementary in Miami is a ‘champion’ for her special needs students

Marlen Lanza is a special needs teacher at Howard Drive Elementary in Miami and a "champion" for her students.

MIAMI – Every year, Local 10′s Tribute to Teachers campaign recognizes the best educators in South Florida, with only five honorees selected from hundreds of nominations.

Marlen Lanza is a special needs teacher at Howard Drive Elementary in Miami and has been an educator for 23 years.

Lanza was surprised with her recognition at her school, while the woman who nominated her was happy to take part in the festivities.

Bonnee Binker nominated Lanza because of the impact she’s had on her own granddaughter and other students with emotional and behavioral disorders.

“When Delaney got here at the beginning of the year, she wasn’t a very happy child, didn’t function well, didn’t want anything to do with anybody,” said Binker.

Lanza says she works with her colleagues as a team. She has worked at Howard Drive Elementary for 15 years.

“That’s our goal to make them functional, contributing members to society and that’s what we’re going to be because we work like a team in Howard Drive,” said Lanza.

Lanza is a proud champion for children.

“It is so appreciated because this is my heart. This is my love. These are my kids. This is what I do,” said Lanza.

Lanza is among a select group of South Florida educators receiving the recognition from the Tribute to Teachers campaign.

The recognition also comes with a $1,000 gift card from Publix Super Markets. Lanza shared her gift with her paraprofessional, Miriam Olivera.

Two other teachers selected this year will be announced during the 5 p.m. Local 10 newscasts.

About the Author:

Mayte Padron Cordones is an Emmy-award winning journalist and the director of WPLG's Community Relations Department, overseeing the station's outreach initiatives to benefit and strengthen the South Florida community.