Alexandre Lopes thanks everyone as he accepts his award in February when he was named Miami-Dade Public Schools' Teacher of the Year. Lopes teaches prekindergarten, and many of his students are autistic.
Miami-Dade teacher Alexandre Lopes won top honors in the state for his work with special-needs students.
Lopes, who teaches a pre-kindergarten special-education class at Carol City Elementary, was named Macy’s Florida Department of Education Teacher of the Year for 2013 at an awards ceremony Thursday night in Orlando.
The award comes with a $10,000 check from the Macy’s Foundation and a trip to New York for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, among other prizes.
Lopes sang in accepting the award and thanked his “little dreamers.”
“I have no words to describe the amount of love that I have for you and for my profession,” he said.
Lopes, who is originally from Brazil, leads a Learning Experience: Alternative Program, or LEAP, class for prekindergarten students. Many of his students are autistic, cannot speak, or cannot use the restroom on their own. He uses music and dance to teach and communicate with them.
“The theme of tonight’s competiton was magic, and Alex was definitely a step ahead. He performs magic in his classroom every day, sharing his wonderful skills with challenged children who benefit from the magic he brings to them,” said Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho.
He succeeds another South Florida teacher in the honor: Alvin Davis, who teaches music at Miramar High School, was the 2012 state teacher of the year.
The other finalists for the award were:
• Nanci Brilliant, intensive reading and college readiness teacher, St. Cloud High School, Osceola County
• Megan Crombie, fourth- and fifth-grade combination class teacher, Riversink Elementary School, Wakulla County
• Jeffrey Pribble, English and technology education teacher, Escambia High School, Escambia County
• Dawn Voyer, social studies teacher, Cypress Lake Middle School, Lee County
Lopes, 43, was chosen from among some 20,000 Miami-Dade teachers to win teacher of the year for the county. He later was chosen as a finalist among the state’s 180,000 educators.
He is studying for a doctorate in special education at Florida International University.