Even before entering middle school, students at Frank C. Martin International K-8 Center have heard all about Mr. Aladro. He’s got a reputation for history lessons so engaging that many kids want to keep working past the school bell.
On Thursday, the Miami-Dade school district officially recognized what his students already knew: Geoffrey Aladro is a great teacher, the 2016 winner of the county’s Francisco R. Walker Teacher of the Year award.
The district’s Rookie Teacher of the Year was also named: Desiree Amber Chase of MAST @ Homestead.
Aladro’s supporters were ecstatic. They rang cowbells.
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Someone waved a handmade sign that read: “#1 teacher” as Aladro made his way to the stage at the Doubletree by Hilton Miami Airport & Convention Center.
He was swamped with well-wishers.
“I’ve got to get up there!” he said, laughing.
He thanked everyone from his school’s custodians to the Miami-Dade County School Board, as well as his family. Aladro also had something to say about the emphasis on high-stakes testing in education today.
“Assessment and accountability are powerful tools for improving educational outcomes,” he said. “But it is my hope that we always remember we are more than just a number, and our students are more than just a collection of data points.”
Aladro has been teaching for eight years, sponsors the school’s chess club and takes a group of middle-schoolers for a trip abroad every year. He also was his school’s rookie teacher of the year in 2010.
“Mr. Aladro views his job as an exciting daily adventure,” Joyce Matthews, region selection committee chair, wrote in a nomination letter for the annual honor, named for the first Miami-Dade teacher killed on the job.
Aladro strives to make many lessons interactive. For example: Did Pocahontas save John Smith’s life? Create a podcast debating why or why not. How important were ships to European empires? Make one out of aluminum to find out.
“He brings lessons for youth ‘alive,’” retired administrator Wylamerle Glover-Marshall wrote in a nomination letter.
The trick to his success, Aladro said, is to connect with students. In lessons about Atlantic trade, he noticed:
“When islands like Barbados and Curacao come up — and I have kids from Curaco and Barbados — when they see where they’re from in a lesson, they’re so much more engaged,” Aladro said. “So any kind of connections you can build to a student’s past or their culture of family really helps lock them in.”
Aladro also has gone after teacher grants to transform his classroom with today’s technology — like iPads. His lessons are online and he encourages kids to post feedback online.
“I thought I liked history, but Mr. Aladro made me love history,” one former student wrote in a nomination letter.
Aladro walked away with a new car, $4,500 and other prizes.
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