GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Not only is Marisol Buitrago a teacher at Green Cove Springs Head Start Center, but when education recently became a challenge, she reverted back to teaching and at the Early …
GREEN COVE SPRINGS – Not only is Marisol Buitrago a teacher at Green Cove Springs Head Start Center, but when education recently became a challenge, she reverted back to teaching and at the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida’s Preschool.
Now her work was recognized when she was selected as the Teacher of the Year.
Buitrago has been teaching preschool for 25 years. Since the beginning of the year, she has worked as the lead teacher in the classroom due to the center being short-staffed. Buitrago takes pride in students’ growth, she said.
Buitrago said her duties are about 90% in the classroom. After teaching in the morning and afternoon, she handles administrative tasks later in the day.
“I work a bit more, but I’m not worried about it,” she added. “I have a passion for these kids. I love them and I want to see them do well in school and make sure they have the tools they need.”
The center has 45 children. Buitrago called the award a surprise and chalked it up to the center’s staff.
“All the ladies who work here are very good,” Buitrago said. “They all have a passion for children.”
Developing understanding in students and creating a safe environment are the key goals so the children, some of whom are bilingual or from low-income families can enter kindergarten and prosper.
“The No. 1 thing is safety, and the No. 2 thing is, let’s teach,” she said.
Joan Whitson, the coalition’s Outreach Manager, said Buitrago’s actions inspired her students to dream and do more.
“These two teachers are clearly leaders and are so deserving of this award and recognition,” Whitson said of Buitrago and the coalition’s Infant/Toddler Teacher of the Year, Amy Finkley.
Buitrago and Finkley received a cash prize and will be honored at the coalition’s Early Educators Conference on Saturday at the Thrasher-Horne Center’s conference center.
“What fulfills me the most is we’ve progressed so much from August to right now,” Buitrago said. “Sometimes for the children, it’s zero letters to the full alphabet.”
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