Riverside Elementary teacher honored for making a difference

Elba Gebara among 5 chosen for Local 10's Tribute to Teachers

MIAMI – From a slew of nominations, Elba Gebara was one of five South Florida teachers chosen to be honored in Local 10's Tribute to Teachers for making a difference in the classroom.

Gebara's students at Riverside Elementary Community School in Little Havana were thrilled.

"We think she is so awesome. She helps us so much doing math," said student Mia Jarquin.

"I tell them all the time that poverty, circumstances don't define you.  You have to work hard.  Education is the key," Gebara said.

It was the key that unlocked many doors of opportunity for this native of Nicaragua, who immigrated to Miami with her family and attended Riverside Elementary herself.

Some 25 years later, Gebara returned to the school with a Ph.D. in education and a passion to give back to her community. 

"I just knew something good was going to come out of her life. I just knew right then and there," said teacher Donna Schipilliti, who taught Gebara at Riverside.

Gebara's husband, Joseph, became emotional when he talked about his wife’s passion for teaching. He wrote the nomination letter that made the honor possible.

"It's the perfect recognition for a perfect person," he said.

Local 10 News, along with the Ford Motor Co., also awarded Gebara $1,000 in appreciation for her service.