“I’ve been blessed to teach so many children, from 18-plus years. I see them in the community. I can’t walk out in Aventura and not see kids I’ve taught,” Sultz said.
Every year, Christine Napoles chooses a different instrument to play along with her students.
“Just having the kids see me learning along with them brings a whole new dynamic to the classroom,” said Napoles, 34, a music teacher and band director at Hialeah Middle School. “Teaching is learning. As a teacher you are a student for life, you just build upon our knowledge and your experience.”
This year, Napoles picked the clarinet. She said she doesn’t have a favorite instrument, but loves all the instruments her band plays.
“When you are in the middle of rehearsal you forget everything that happens outside that room, and I know that students do to. Students come in with a wide variety of issues, and when we are together, you see all of that erased from their faces,” Napoles said.
Maria Donohue studied pre-medical biology and chemistry at Barry University and had her application for medical school ready when she decided to become a teacher.
Today, the 28-year-old teaches biology and forensic science at Hialeah Gardens Senior High School.
“I work with different subject areas because I think they have to see that biology isn’t just stuck in this building,” Donohue said. “So we go outside the classroom. I bring in things they are interested in and can relate to.”
Donohue explained DNA structure by using the Twilight book series. She explained the theory of evolution by creating a zombie lab. She asked her students to write a poem after they visited the wetlands.
For her forensic science class, she created a crime scene where students had to find and analyze the clues.
“I want them to be creative,” said Donohue. “As technology gets better, people don’t really need to do too much. I want them to understand that if they want to be successful, they need to be able to think outside the box.”
In his senior year at Florida International University, Marshall Ruffo decided not to apply to medical school. Instead, he pursued a teaching career.
“Some people pick a job and a career. Education and teaching sort of picked me,” said Ruffo, 36, a science teacher at Centennial Middle School in Cutler Bay for 10 years.
Behind Ruffo’s classroom, there’s a lab station where the students apply the science they learned in class. In a recent class, his students dissected lion fishes donated from Biscayne National Park.
“Hands-on activities in my field, in science, make the greatest impact with our students today,” Ruffo said. “They retain the information and can understand what’s going on by doing the actual science. Not reading about it, not hearing about it.”