I believe that I am able to be the teacher I am because I am always listening to my students. I try to be as attentive as possible to their needs and my position allows me to dedicate the one-on-one time they desire. I feel fortunate to be able to be in this profession because of my love for children. I always wanted to be able to surround myself with them and an added bonus is being able to help them learn and explore. I have been a part of the Shelton family for five years now, and every day I wish for my students to have great experiences where they are comfortable exploring and learning. Their happiness is my main goal.
I have been making music since I was seven years old, and it was not hard to notice that I was going to dedicate my life to spreading it around the world. The first time I was exposed to a teaching environment, I was a teenager who was supposed to explain to a group of children under ten years of age how to play the cello part of a symphonic music piece. The journey has not stopped since then. I have moved from Venezuela to Miami to Boston, and then Miami again, always trying to teach and propagate love through music. I hold a Bachelor's Degree in Professional Music (focused on music education and business), summa cum laude, from the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
Music is a powerful tool to spread love and conscience, and although during my teenage years I thought my only calling was to make that which could soften people’s hearts, I found out there is something much more rewarding: giving the knowledge to others, specially children. They can send a stronger message through music, because the purity of their souls gives the most genuine touch that a musical performance can have.
Being a music teacher nowadays is more challenging than ever, due to the new trends in the industry, where it seems acceptable to denigrate others through lyrics and choreographies. Although it is part of my philosophy that children must choose for themselves what to listen to, I am also committed to presenting them with better musical options, and I always explain to them why these other options are more nurturing for their brain and hearts.
Aside from being the music and band teacher at Shelton Academy, I am also an instructor and business manager with World Music Schools, an academy licensed by Yamaha that is part of Shelton's After School Program.
I was born in Colombia and moved to Miami with my mother in 1996. I quickly embraced Miami’s diversity. From an early age, I was surrounded by a wide array of cultures and beliefs. It was for this reason that I learned to value individuality.
Initially, I went to college to pursue a career in mass communications and journalism. Then I became a mother to two beautiful daughters, Laura and Sofia. I made a conscious effort to instill the same values in them that I had learned years before: to truly embrace their culture and individuality.
Becoming a mother peaked my interest in cognitive development, emotional growth, and a child’s desire to question, wonder, and invent. My daughters also helped me come to the realization that with growth comes change, challenges, and endless learning. It started to become very clear to me that teaching was the perfect place to explore my passion. I was blessed to take my first steps on the path to education at Shelton Academy's sister preschool, The Joy of Learning. The opportunity to document children’s learning seemed like the perfect fit given my previous background. I soon fell in love with the Reggio Emilia philosophy after discovering that my role included researching as well as being a co-learner within a culture of relationships. During my time there, I had the privilege of teaching a variety of grades, becoming familiar with several stages of child development and the most important aspects of early childhood education.
After seven years at TJOL, I was thrilled to become part of the Shelton Academy family! Being a member of this team allows me to continue to do what I love, as well as challenge myself with achieving new goals.
Throughout my career, I have participated in countless professional development workshops, ranging from curriculum, psychology, consciousness, child development, and the Reggio Emilia philosophy, to subjects such as art and photography. Even though my initial higher education background is in mass communications, I returned to school to pursue coursework in early childhood education.
As a teacher, we are constantly learning. Moreover, we are researchers, gathering as much information from as many different sources as possible, in order to grow more and more with time. Every day, I am eager to see how I grow with my students and guide them to love learning, embrace who they are, and make discoveries about themselves based upon their interests, just as I did.
Vice Principal & Upper Academy Math
I am a man of faith, a husband, father, teacher, and musician. I spent my first 29 years in education in Venezuela, where I worked as a professor specializing in middle school mathematics at Colegio Católico Manuel Muñoz Tébar in Caracas. Later on, I was also head of curriculum evaluation, chair of the math department, and a high school teacher.
As a professor at the Metropolitan University in Caracas, I taught various courses, including logistics, general and didactic math, statistics, social sciences, and finance. I hold a specialist's degree in technology, learning, and knowledge specialization. I am also specialized in educational leadership and curriculum design, and participated in various research projects in conjunction with professors from the Catholic University, Simón Bolívar University, and Central University of Venezuela. I developed an investigative project with an onto-semiotic focus for the teaching of mathematical objectives. Furthermore, I worked with a team of professors to assess the educational program at the Metropolitan University and was part of the psychometric team in the department of behavioral sciences there.
From 1985 to 2014, I was the director of the Catholic musical group Kerygma. From 1997 to 2000, I was a member of the pastoral council of the María Madre de la Iglesia parish.
Teaching math and educational leadership are my passions, and I feel blessed to have the ability to provoke learning processes in my students. Having reached a point in my life where I have been challenged to begin a new project in a different country, I have been pleasantly surprised that my path has crossed with those whom I am sure God has placed in my life. I believe that excellence is a process, and I am convinced that my vocation as an educator places me in a position as a public servant. Finally, I am thankful for the families that place their trust in me so that together we may collaborate in the education of their children.
Upper Academy Literature
I was born and raised in Miami, Florida. As a young adult, my eye couldn’t help but be on a future in broadcast journalism. However, as I grew older, my heart eventually led me to the field of education for a variety of reasons. I found a love for teaching children because of all the years I spent as a dance instructor. The light in those children’s eyes when they understood a complicated choreography or faced their fears on stage, not to mention the excitement and pride I felt for them, was wonderful. I’ll always love those 15 years I was blessed to be their dance teacher.
Graduating from the University of Miami in 2003, I fulfilled my full scholarship requirements by having taught three years at one of the lowest income schools in Miami. I then moved on to the middle school sector and taught geography for the International Baccalaureate Program and ESOL for all grade levels. My duties eventually included analyzing school data, working as the athletic and activity coordinator, ESOL department head, and a few other responsibilities. In addition, I continued teaching part-time as the competition tap teacher for the same local dance studio, all the while, continuing my education at Nova Southeastern University, earning several post-graduate degrees in Curriculum, Instruction and Technology, Educational Leadership, and Social Studies Education.
Alongside teaching, I also became an entrepreneur with Mary Kay and have learned so much more about people, business, and balance. Being in charge of my own goals, budget, and mentoring others has made me an even stronger teacher. I decided to work my new business full-time after a couple of years and said goodbye to the classroom. However, it wasn’t before long that I started to miss the incredible chance to teach and inspire others in a classroom, not just in a business. So, while still working my business, I returned to the classroom, but in a different light. I became an English teacher for adults who were living in Miami on visas and attending a language school. Those two years truly inspired me, giving me yet another me perspective on how I could positively affect another student’s life.
That led me here! I am excited to join the Shelton family this 2018-2019 school year as the 8th grade homeroom teacher, where I am responsible for coordinating a series of memorable experiences that the graduates can take with them as they move on from Shelton and begin high school. I also have the privilege of teaching 6th, 7th, and 8th grade English literature and writing.
I am thrilled to teach these subjects and dive right in as they are amongst my favorites. I remember being introduced to writing as a freshman at St. Brendan High School, when my teacher asked us to decipher musical lyrics and write our own interpretations. From there, I fell in love with poetry, mythology, and novels. This eventually led me to a position on the school newspaper. To balance it all, holding a top spot on the school’s dance team allowed me to build discipline and spirit for my school. As a teacher, I always wanted to build the creative space my teachers always gave me. If my students could feel the freedom to be themselves on paper and in life, then I had succeeded. Parents would show such appreciation for the variety of my projects, which allowed their children not just creative freedoms, but also life-based experiences. For example, at 13 years of age, students would know how to book a flight, create a budget, and also manage and organize a trip. It really came in handy when parents needed help planning and packing for a family vacation!
My teaching style is described as “fun and fair” with just the right balance of discipline. The respect I have for my students as they have for me is immeasurable. I attribute this to always being transparent with my students regarding my own experiences growing up, assuring them that I have compassion for what their middle school experiences might be like.
My goal each and every day is to inspire and open new opportunities for others. I would love nothing more than for my students to look back at their days in my classroom and remember them as one of the many stepping stones to a life filled with greatness!
During the past twenty years, I have been fortunate enough to teach a variety of subjects to a wide array of learners, ranging from elementary grades to adults. However, the one thing that has remained the same in my career is that I believe every child should be valued and treated with respect.
I am a caring, patient, and sensitive teacher who works well with students of various backgrounds and learning capabilities. I consider myself an organized, hard-working, and self-motivated educator who puts great effort into preparing my lessons while using multiple teaching strategies to keep my students focused and interested.
I grew up in New York City and earned my BA in Exceptional Student Education from Florida International University. I have been married twenty-three years and have two amazing sons.
In my spare time, I enjoy reading, cooking, and boating. I look forward to helping my students become responsible and independent children who love learning.
Library Coordinator & MUN Advisor
"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one." –George R.R. Martin
I hold a degree in communications, film, and television. For 18 years, I worked in the entertainment field. As a journalist, my hobby and passion was the ability to tell stories through the written word or the television screen. As a literature professor’s daughter, I grew up among books and learned very early on to love reading. One of the keys for that love to be birthed in me was the ability to have the right book in my hands—that book that was simple, fun, and held me captive within its pages until its very end. These same books were the ones I fell in love with.
As a library coordinator, my goal is that the students not only make great gains in their reading levels, but also that they experience that same passion for a good book.
Shelton Academy, in its constant efforts to raise academic standards, implements the Accelerated Reader (AR) program, whose aim is to increase the levels of understanding of the students through daily reading. The success of this program lies in the choice of the ideal book, both in interest and degree of difficulty.
In our library and media center, children find all the tools to dream and grow! It’s a joy for me to be there right alongside them on this journey.
I am originally from Nicaragua but was raised in Miami, Florida. Growing up I had a couple of teachers who instilled in me a love for education and they were some of the people who inspired me to become an educator. For me, teaching is a challenging, creative, and meaningful way to help students see their own potential.
I graduated from Florida International University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Soon after, I obtained my preschool certification. I have worked with young children for several years in Miami, as well as in Nicaragua.
I believe that each child is a unique individual who needs a secure, caring, and stimulating environment in which to grow and mature emotionally, intellectually, physically, and socially. It is my goal as a teacher to help students meet their fullest potential in these areas. In addition, I aspire to bring an open mind, a positive attitude, and high expectations to the classroom each day. I believe that I owe it to my students to convey consistency, diligence, and warmth in my job with the hopes that I can ultimately inspire and encourage such traits in the children as well.
I was born in Cuba and came to Miami when I was two years old. I am the mom of three beautiful kids: Angel, Jonathan, and Olivia. Ever since I was a little girl I wanted to help children, take care of them, and teach them. When I was 15 years old, I began volunteering at a day care, and that's when I fell in love with teaching. I have been working in schools for over 12 years now. I think educating children is the most gratifying and rewarding job in the world! I'm proud to say I have been working at Shelton since its first year and it has been a wonderful experience. I look forward to many more years with my Shelton family!
Upper Academy Science
I have been teaching for a little over seven years. I started teaching at the college level and still currently lead an online class for undergrad students. I find online learning and the laboratory component of courses exciting! Several years into teaching college, I decided to become certified to teach science, specifically biology and chemistry, in grades 6-12. It was then that I realized and knew how much I wanted to share my passion for these subjects with young minds.
I was the science teacher at Shelton Academy from 2013-2015. Those two years were amazing, filled with rewarding experiences, lifetime friendships, and unforgettable students who gave me flashbacks that reminded me of the beauty of the teenage years! Each and every one of my students has added to my passion to teach younger students. After taking some time to be with my daughter, I was delighted to have opportunity to rejoin the Shelton family in 2017. Here, I love to plant the seeds for ‘loving science’ in a beautiful classroom and science laboratory prepared to teach our future.
So where does all my love for science stem from? I hold a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and physics, and a master’s degree in health care administration and education. I also earned a nursing degree with a continuation in nurse practitioner focusing on research.
I believe that learning happens when students can identify with the information, such as a real-life learning environment, and when the atmosphere to thrive is fostered. At Shelton Academy, such a learning environment comes naturally. This has led me to love teaching even more and nurture my passion for instilling the power to attain an education that is memorable and useful. Learning is an everlasting journey shaping purposeful human beings for the future. In turn, my desire is that my students can identify with my teaching style, passion for education, and attitude of empowerment.
In addition, I am the mother of a charming, lovable, energetic, and full-of-wit two-year-old girl. Everyday she reminds my husband and me of how fortunate we are to share the role of parenting as we raise our amazing little human. Education along with values, morals, and principles are well defined in our home. Focusing life on positivism is highly practiced here, as well as establishing a strong support system so we can all reach our goals. Our family nucleus and extended family, grandparents and cousins, fill my life outside work. Most of my hobbies and leisure time revolve around family activities.
Maria Victoria Olavarrieta
The teacher I am today I owe to my family, my religion, and the wonderful educators who have molded and inspired me.
I had to overcome many obstacles to receive schooling, because at the time that I lived in Cuba, a practicing Catholic could not study psychology, journalism, or education. When I had to choose my profession, I asked myself: which occupation would most help humanity? I had to make many sacrifices to graduate as a teacher, but these experiences made me strong and they instilled in me what I now instill in my students: everything that is worthwhile does not come easy.
I treasure and value my position at Shelton Academy. I have been in education for more than 25 years, and it is here that I can teach Spanish literature and at the same time fill the students’ minds with values and good habits that will accompany them for the rest of their lives. Every day, I know that I have in front of me the men and women of the future, and I feel a great sense of responsibility because parents have entrusted me with their children.
For me, my job is the most important in the world: to make of these children good citizens who will transform this world into a better place in which to live. Teachers hold the future in their classrooms.
I believe that love is the most powerful force in the world and the best medicine to cure all ailments. Tenderness is the key that opens all hearts. With this in mind, in my spare time I collaborate with the collection of clothing, toys, and school supplies for the orphanage Misioneros del Camino in Guatemala. I’m also a catechism teacher and an active member of my parish. Every so often, I write editorials that have been published in the Miami Herald, as well as articles on education, ethics and values, and human rights for the blogASOPAZCO (Asociación Para la Paz Continental) in Spain, country where I taught for several years.
Upper Academy Social Studies & MUN Advisor
"There are no great limits to growth because there are no limits of human intelligence, imagination, and wonder." –Ronald Reagan
The path to education and knowledge was very important for me to follow. Without hesitation, I decided to pursue a career in education and devote my life to teaching social studies. I was blessed with the opportunity to join the Shelton family and hope to expand my knowledge of the world through my students.
Before I became an educator, I was an avid basketball player. I was awarded a scholarship to play the sport at Elms College in 2007. I later came home to continue my education at Miami Dade College, where I earned my associates degree in history. My passion for this subject led me to Florida International University, where that passion grew and extended further beyond just studying world civilizations. I've had the opportunity to learn from top scholars. My area of expertise ranges from the dominant and precious Roman-Greco era, to the prominent, contemporary history of the United States. Upon the completion of my degree, I wanted to showcase my knowledge to young, aspiring students. My style of teaching is unique and has proven to be effective!
In order for an educator to truly appreciate the fine aspects of teaching, he must respect his motives for educating. I teach history in a manner that my students can understand the past and utilize it in order to become something great. There were many historical figures and events that shaped the way we view the world. By comprehending our history, we can ultimately mold the way we think, act, and change. Upon doing so, the next step for achieving and finding one’s true self can come in the form of finally answering life’s great questions about the world. My students will be able to think critically and solve major world problems. They will also be able to act accordingly and professionally around their peers. Finally, they will be able to change in a positive and caring manner. These traits will propel all of my students to excel and succeed in their lives. There is nothing more important than having these ideologies become my true motives for teaching.
English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)
I have wonder and admiration for all acts that encourage others in positivisim, to grow and share and generously guide to the pursuit of knowledge, virtues, and happiness.
My belief and my way to give back includes conviction on the cause and effect process of this approach and its outcomes, all which changes lives through kindness and persistance, through understanding and practice, always with care and patience.
Having studied social and political sciences abroad, my choice was and still is to fulfill my most essential passion, which is to guide children in their learning process and in the building of their positive self esteem, assisting to prepare their foundations for a life of achievements. This is my belief, my choice, my calling, and my pursuit. It is my way of being part of the understanding and enjoying of a great life.
At the age of seven, I moved to Miami from my native Cuba. At first, I experienced a very difficult time in school due to the language barrier. This experience has allowed me to relate to many of the students I have encountered in my classroom throughout the years. As I quickly picked up on the English language as a child and due to my dedicated and supporting teachers, I started to really enjoy learning. Having such a wonderful support system at home and in school sparked the love of teaching in me. At a very young age, I knew I’d be a teacher someday.
In high school, I was part of the “Falcon’s Nest,” a day care set up within our school for the teachers’ children. The high school students would manage the daycare, providing the children with everything from food to curriculum. Through this program, I acquired forty hours of certification in early childhood. I had a wonderful experience there, and it is where I truly felt a connection with children and education. As soon as I graduated, I worked at an elementary after school program, where I would remain for seven years. I attended Carlos Albizu University, where I earned my bachelor's degree in elementary education (K-6th), endorsed in reading and ESOL.
Throughout my career, I have learned about many theories. I find myself taking a little piece from each and putting into practice what works best with my students. I most certainly employ the behaviorist theory, where I reward good behavior, stimulating the children to be at their best at all times. I also put into action the constructivism theory, building students' knowledge based on what they already know, while also reinforcing and facilitating the learning of that which they don’t yet know.
At Shelton Academy, putting into practice the Reggio Emilia approach has been very natural for me. It is here that I am able to enrich and support the students in a learning environment where we all get to be creative with our lessons!
Dean of Students
I’ve been involved in the arts since I was three years old. I danced flamenco, played guitar, and sang in a band. Performing was my life from an early age. When I finished high school, I chose to be involved in the family business and earned a bachelor’s degree in management. I opened up my own flamenco dance school as a hobby. Eventually, I owned three dance schools, which certainly required putting my management skills to work! Having a dance school opened up new opportunities for me; I was now teaching! When instructing a child how to dance, one comes across all types of students.
I fell in love with this new opportunity, and so I went back to school to obtain my Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education, coupled with one in counseling.
I fell so deeply in love with my educational career that it was the road I passionately pursued. When I came to the United States in 2000, I could see that the educational system was lacking in what it had to offer my four children. It was at this point that I decided to open up my own school.
I earned my Director's Credentials at the Advanced Level by the Florida Department of Children and Families and went on to specialize in multiple intelligences at Harvard University in Boston, which gave me the best tools to understand that every child is unique. Education for me is meant to touch lives forever; to plant a seed in each child’s life and see it grow. As teachers, we have their lives in our hands.
“It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.” –L.R. Knost
I was born in Venezuela and moved to Miami over 13 years ago. My first job in the United States was as a Pre-K teacher; that’s where I discovered my passion for education. My mother is an educator as well, and I grew up with the mentality of wanting to help others learn and love what they learn.
Ever since the first time I walked into a classroom, I have felt the calling to be there. I am grateful to do what I love: teaching my students how to be citizens of the world. I have been fortunate to do it in multiple grade levels for over a decade now.
As a mom of three beautiful girls, I feel a stronger sense of purpose because I believe my students are my adoptive children and I thrive in getting to know them and their families as we work together as a team to make them better than they already are.
I LOVE to sing and dance and I try to incorporate it into everything I do! I believe music is the way to express our souls. In the end, that is what I strive to do as a teacher: help my students find their life tunes so they can fly high and spread their wings. I remember a time when one of my five-year-old students told me, "If I haven't done it yet, then I believe I can do it." If I there is something that I want my kids to know it is that if you believe it, you can achieve it.
Voted Teacher of the Year 2017
When I was in first grade, I decided that I wanted to be a teacher just like Mrs. Román, whose last name was coincidentally the same as mine, although we were not related. She taught me that there is a song for every lesson. She allowed me to explore books for fun and helped me discover a whole new world through reading. Mr. Santiago, my art history teacher in high school, walked me through the most amazing experience of learning about art from all around the world and from all ages. As my role models, Mrs. Román and Mr. Santiago inspired me to become who I am as a teacher today.
My path for the past couple of years includes learning from artists while working at the Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico; being an instrument to motivate teenagers who want to drop out of school; letting gifted children inspire me; and learning from the little ones while working in the early education field. These experiences make me the teacher that I am today. Relocating from city to city and meeting people from different cultures have changed my perspective in education and how I embrace diversity through it.
The most exciting thing about teaching is when the students take the initiative and you find the right tools, words, and resources to motivate them to make a project. When they are engaged during their creative process, it opens up an opportunity for them to establish a meaningful conversation with their classmates. It’s amazing to see all the things you can learn from their conversations and the laughs that they bring to you on a daily basis.
I would love to transmit my positive energy, curiosity, and creativity to the students, but I want them to discover it by themselves, perhaps inspired by me. If I am able to help my students develop their creativity, I am promoting critical thinking, and both skills are necessary for problem-solving. Through education, we are supporting the leaders of the future who will be agents to solve the issues that our society faces day by day. Education is the key to a better world.
In my free time, I love to rollerblade, dance, hike, and of course, do art. Xylography (wood engraving) is my specialty. Hiking and going to the beach are the relaxing activities that boost my energy. I am part of the National Art Education Association, and attend a yearly convention to learn innovative and inventive ways to teach art to all ages.
Teaching is one of my biggest passions in life! I believe that being an educator is one of the noblest and most rewarding professional careers. I delight in working with young children and taking a role in their academic and socio-emotional development. Being a small part of their school life journey fills me with joy. Perhaps one of my favorite parts of being a teacher is having the opportunity to witness children blossom and grow. I take great pride in seeing the end results of their hard work.
I began my professional studies in business administration. While attending college, I also worked full-time as a first grade teacher assistant at a prestigious American school in my home country of Venezuela. This experience sparked in me the desire to pursue a career in early childhood education.
I first obtained a pre-elementary teaching degree from Miami Dade College, and later attended Florida International University to complete my studies. For a little over 18 years, I have been fortunate enough to work with children in various settings. I have taught Pre-K, Kindergarten, and first grade. Most recently, I served as a preschool director for 10 years.
A teacher’s influence can be very powerful, both in the classroom and beyond. Therefore, I make every effort to guide my students to become avid learners, to develop the needed confidence to face any challenges, to discover their unique talents and strengths, and to foster positive and lasting relationships with their peers.
I treasure a classroom environment where children feel valued and respected, where families are welcome, and where we all feel free to express ourselves, learn from one another, and work cooperatively. My ultimate goal is to provide my students with the experiences that will allow them to be creative, innovative, persistent, positive, and respectful of our diverse ways of thinking.
My other passion in life is, of course, my family. My husband and my two children enjoy camping, boating, traveling, and spending lots of time together. Every year, I look forward to welcoming my students in my classroom and forming new and lasting connections with all of them.
Voted Teacher of the Year 2018
I believe that teaching is not just my profession, but also a gift that was bestowed upon me by my heavenly Father. The love and passion that I have for teaching makes me the teacher that I am. It’s not only about motivating my students to learn, but teaching them how to learn, and doing so in a manner that is relevant, meaningful, and memorable to them. It’s about caring for each of them as I care for my very own.
To me, it’s an honor to be a teacher; after all, I am helping to build the future leaders of our country!
I think what excites me most about teaching is seeing students reach their full potential. That spark that they get in their eyes when the concept or lesson is finally clear to them is priceless. Knowing that I had something to do with that is so very rewarding to me. Those times help to build such special relationships with my students that are so very special to me.
My students leave footprints in my heart that last a lifetime. I have been teaching for over 20 years now. I chose this profession because I love to help children reach for the moon, because even if they fall, they will fall among stars. I want to be the one person who helps them achieve their dreams. I will be there cheering them on all the way to see their dreams become a reality. What I would want to transmit to my students is to strive to be the very best they can be, to respect each other, to have a sense of value, and to look in the mirror and see what God sees.