Spanish Lake Elementary celebrates 'trifecta' of honors for its staff

Tuesday, January 21, 2014 0 Comments

Spanish Lake Elementary celebrates 'trifecta' of honors for its staff


Spanish Lake Elementary (SLE) is celebrating what it calls the "Trifecta." Principal Jaqueline Arias-Gonzalez was named American Feeder Pattern Principal of the Year, Melanie Negron was named Teacher of the Year and Jennifer Meneses is Rookie Teacher of the Year.

Arias-Gonzalez, SLE’s founding principal, has been an educator for a total of 23 years. She has served as a principal for 10 years. She began at Mae M. Walters Elementary and then opened SLE in 2007. She has also served as an assistant principal for Cypress Elementary, William Lehman Elementary, and Tropical Elementary.

Prior to acquiring the position as an administrator, she was a Montessori teacher at Joella C. Good Elementary and a Kindergarten teacher at Meadowlawn Elementary. Her sincere and welcoming manner encourages open communication among staff, parents, and students.

Throughout her career, her quality leadership has initiated change and innovation to provide quality curriculum, teaching practices and assessment methods to meet student needs.

Arias-Gonzalez, a Miami native herself and a daughter of Cuban immigrants, has always had a self-directive desire to excel.  She received her Bachelors Degree in Education from Florida International University and she continued her education at Barry University with a Masters of Science in Educational Leadership.

She is now aspiring to pursue her doctorate in Educational Leadership at Florida International University. She has participated in many leadership opportunities in Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

Her roles have included Lead Principal for the American Feeder Pattern, a member of the Dade Association of School Administrators (DASA), and an avid community activist who spearheads annual canned food and toy drives during the holidays.

Over and beyond her dedication to the Spanish Lake Elementary family and her outstanding involvement as an educator, she considers her personal family to be of upmost importance.  She is a proud wife of Desi Gonzalez, Jr. and a loving mother of two boys, Desi Julian, 7 years old, and Jonathan Daniel, 4 years old.

Although she never dreamed of being a teacher, Melanie Negron started her teaching career 10 years ago. She wanted to be an instrumentalist. Her journey to becoming a teacher began when she was introduced to Music Therapy by an advisor at Miami Dade Community College. After taking one class, she realized that she could help people with mental and physical disabilities using music as a medium.

Negron graduated from Florida State University where she majored in Music Therapy and gained experience working with people of all age groups. She enjoyed working with at-risk youths of middle school age. Returning to Miami, she was hired as a music teacher at M.A. Milam K-8 Center. Ten years later, she can’t imagine doing anything else.

In 2008, Negron returned to school and graduated with a double Master’s degree in School Counseling and Mental Health Therapy. She believes John Lennon said it best: “The love you take is equal to the love you make.”

Jennifer Meneses, SLE’s Rookie Teacher of the Year, is inspired daily by being a part of Spanish Lake Elementary’s inspiring and caring staff. As a respected and resourceful team player with an optimistic, differentiated, and effective teaching style, Meneses is committed to creating a challenging, structured and engaging classroom setting while inspiring each student to do his or her best.

She believes that this world is filled with endless opportunities to learn. She hopes to give children within her class the desire to become eager learners for a lifetime.

As far back as she can remember, teaching has always been her passion and to pursue this rewarding profession. Her mother-in-law, Maladys Gonzalez, a Spanish teacher extraordinaire at Bob Graham Education Center, and her grandmother have been beacons for her as well.

Meneses graduated magna cum laude from Florida International University, with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education.

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