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Broward’s ‘Teacher of the Year’ believes in having fun

Harbordale Elementary School teacher receives top award

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Cari Rodriguez is a literacy coach a Harbordale Elementary School in Fort Lauderdale. She doesn’t want her classroom to be boring. She has gotten her students to dance and sing to multiplication facts.

And while learning about the Inuit, a group of indigenous peoples in Arctic regions, the 21-year veteran educator encouraged her students to build the prototype of an igloo.

“I want my students to enjoy learning,” Rodriguez said.

On Thursday night, her creative methods earned her the Teacher Of The Year award. Broward County Public Schools hosted the annual Caliber Awards ceremony at the Fort Lauderdale Broward County Convention Center to recognize 600 nominees and 16 finalists.

Three other district employees received the top 2019-2020 awards: Jane Fleming, the office manager at Pioneer Middle School in Cooper City; Fort Lauderdale High School assistant principal, Sean Curran; and Wilton Manors Elementary School principal, Melissa Holtz.

Wilton Manors Elementary School principal, Melissa Holtz, received the Principal of the Year award on Thursday in Fort Lauderdale.
Wilton Manors Elementary School principal, Melissa Holtz, received the Principal of the Year award on Thursday in Fort Lauderdale. (Local 10 News)

Fleming, who has been working for the district for three decades, received the School-Related Employee of the Year award. Curran received the Assistant Principal of the Year award and Holtz the Principal of the Year award.

Holtz revealed her key for success in a statement:

“Not every child is the same. Some are book smart, some are artistically talented and some struggle every day academically. All children, no matter their story, can be changed forever by the words and actions of those around them.”


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