Local teacher wins Educator of the Year

Wednesday, August 14, 2019 0 Comments

Local teacher wins Educator of the Year
Recently, Shannon Perry-Martinez, a Kindergarten Dual Language teacher at Gator Run Elementary School, won “Educator of the Year” at Operation Smile’s 28 annual International Student Leadership Conference (ISLC) at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

“I just feel like my little club is so small and to be honored that way made me feel really proud but very humbled since there are so many rock stars at this place,” Perry-Martinez said.

The Educator of the Year award is given to an educator who has devoted his or her time, effort and knowledge to supporting Operation Smile by spreading awareness and aiding an Operation Smile student club.

Perry-Martinez first got involved with Operation Smile, an international charity that offers free surgeries to people born with a cleft lip or cleft palate, after meeting with a friend who worked with the organization. “We got together for coffee,” Perry-Martinez said. “She talked about her involvement with Operation Smile and I said ‘Wow, we should start an Operation Smile club at Gator Run,’” she added. After receiving the green light from Gator Run’s administration to start the club, 52 students signed up to get involved.

The Operation Smile Student Club at Gator Run Elementary will enter its 3rd year this fall. Club members assembled Smile bags that are sent to patients, created No Sew blankets for patients and fundraised for Operation Smile. Perry-Martinez also incorporates an educational aspect to the club’s itinerary. “We teach them geography, so we show them where the countries involved are,” Perry-Martinez said. “We also have a leadership board of students, so there’s the educational aspect of teaching them the roles of parliamentary procedures. It’s amazing how so many kids step up to be leaders,” she added.

Perry-Martinez says that it is her dream for Operation Smile student clubs in elementary schools to continue into the middle school grades.

“There’s this strong desire from children to help and give back,” Perry-Martinez said. “It motivates me because I feel If I can give them an opportunity to have empathy and give to others, that’s the most powerful thing I can do as an educator, as a human being,” she added.

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