Region 6 | Sandra Rosado, 55
School: Perkins Elementary, St. Petersburg
Grades: 4 and 5
Education: Bachelor's degree in elementary education, University of Puerto Rico
Sandra Rosado's students say she is the best candidate for the Outstanding Educator of the Year award because she helps them learn a whole new language while truly having fun.
"We just want to make her happy, because she makes us so happy," said Caitlin Ferkile, a fifth-grader.
Rosado tries to be more than just a Spanish teacher. She tries to be a confidante, a friend. "Kids go through so much these days and they need to see that somebody really cares," Rosado said.
They come to her with problems. They write her letters — even when they do something wrong.
"Dear Senora Rosado, I am sorry for what I did yesterday and I really feel bad for making you mad. P.S. You're beautiful."
With more than 22 years of teaching experience, Rosado uses toys, props, PowerPoint and games to appeal to her young students. Before their 20-minute Spanish class begins each day, her students never know what to expect.
When Perkins Elementary started its magnet program of arts and international studies, Rosado became part of the team that created the Spanish program.
"It's important that students learn about cultures from other countries," she said. "They need to become more culturally aware."
The start of the Spanish program brought Rosado an opportunity to combine her beloved heritage with a career she loves even more.
Rosado attended college in Puerto Rico, where she lived for many years. She then moved to the United States and taught language at a school in Texas. From there, she came to teach in Pinellas.
After 18 years of teaching at Perkins, Rosado is now a finalist for the annual award, but she isn't boasting.
"The award is not so much for me," she said. "It's a recognition of my team and our efforts to maintain Spanish in elementary schools."
Students and their parents agree that Rosado deserves the award. "She's just awesome," said Christine Ferkile, Caitlin's mother.
Sabrina Rocco, Times staff writer