Gina Shireman has been named American Senior High School's Teacher of the Year, a title well-deserved considering the time she invests in her students both during and after school hours.
Shireman currently teaches 10th grade English and intensive reading, but her hours teaching rarely end with the sound of the school bell. She also teaches an adult education after school program at American High School and an adult education program for Hialeah Gardens Senior High School.
Shireman frequently partakes in community activities and committees believing it is important for people of all ages to be a part of something "bigger than themselves." She is currently a volunteer for the Youth Activities Task Force for the Town of Miami Lakes, though she has previously sat on the board and been elected to vice chair.
The Youth Activities Task Force serves the community through events like the Halloween Haunted House, Movies in the Park, the Bike Rodeo and the Spring Fling.
"I am proud to be affiliated with the union that has been created between students and community. I am proud to know that I have lead my students on a path that I hope they will continue to journey after they have moved beyond their high school years," Shireman said.
Since 2008, Shireman has also held the honor of being the advisor for American High School's Students Helping Achieve Philanthropic Excellence (SHAPE) Club.
"It is Shape’s mission to empower high school students to achieve personal and professional success by providing philanthropic, leadership, career, and civic opportunities. This is something I take to heart. SHAPE has changed my life as much as it has changed theirs," said Shireman.
Shireman was previously an advisor for the Student Empowerment Project (STEP) that was funded by the State Farm Advisory Board and sponsored by Miami-Dade Community College. STEP aims to empower high school students to be strong leaders, to take charge of their own academic success, and to become active and informed citizens through service learning.
Shireman has had a hand in molding her students into responsible citizens in addition to ambitious students. She happily invests her energy into cultivating character, integrity and honesty in and outside the classroom in a role she affectionately calls "co-parent".
The love for teaching came in a "roundabout way" according to Shireman, who previously worked for the Department of Children and Families as a family services counselor. She felt she could make a bigger impact on children through education and so earned her Master's degree in Exceptional Student Education and began working at New Endeavor Alternative High School in Okeechobee before arriving at American High School.
Colleagues have taken note of Shireman's many responsibilities and genuine love for her students as they nominated her for teacher of the year for the 2013 to 2014 school year.
"It is a great honor. We all work so hard," said Shireman. We are a team, a family. I was stunned to have been chosen because I do what I do because I genuinely love it."