Woodlands Middle School Teacher Wins Award

Woodlands Middle School Teacher Wins Award From Latinos in Action Organization
Posted on 04/20/2020
Woodlands Teacher

Carla Rodas-Piña is a 7th and 8th grade Spanish teacher at Woodlands Middle School who was recently named the Latinos in Action (LIA) Rookie Teacher of the Year for 2020. Latinos In Action is an organization that works to bridge the graduation and opportunity gap for Latino students, working from within the educational system to create positive change.

“I am very humbled about winning this award,” Rodas-Piña said. “I feel like the recognition should not only be given to me but to all my students, educators, and parents that helped me make this year a success.”

The LIA program operates as a year-long elective course taught by highly-qualified teachers at the middle and high school levels. The goal is to empower Latino youth to lead and strengthen their communities through college and career readiness. Rodas-Piña is in her second year teaching 6th – 8th grade LIA students.

“Latinos in Action gives me the opportunity to integrate the importance of service to our community and it also allows me to be the bridge between parents and the education system,” Rodas-Piña said. “I know that my mother benefited from having someone help her navigate the education system when we came to the United States and I want to help those parents that need assistance.”

Born in Guatemala, Rodas-Piña came to the United States at the age of 10 and grew up in San Francisco. She holds a bachelor’s in Human Biology from Pitzer College in California, and a master’s degree in Health Promotion from San Diego State University. She began her career in public health, working to educate young people about disease prevention.

After relocating to West Palm Beach in 2007, she spent two years teaching at PACE Center for Girls, a youth social services organization that “provides academic education through individualized progress monitoring plans and daily instruction taught by certified teachers.” That experience inspired her decision to become a teacher, and she joined the School District in 2009.

“I would have never thought to ever become a teacher but I feel like it was the best thing I’ve done in my career,” she said.

Rodas-Piña was announced as the Rookie Teacher of the Year during the LIA’s annual Student Leadership Conference. The culminating event brings together LIA programs from Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties.

More than 1,000 students typically attend, with this year’s event conducted as a virtual conference due to social distancing precautions prompted by COVID-19. The event included celebrations of student involvement in LIA and other awards given to outstanding educators.

“I enjoy and love the work I do as an educator. I love teaching students not only content but also sharing with them my failures and successes in life,” Rodas-Piña said. “The best feeling is when former students come back and share with you their successes!”

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