Johanna Lopez

Position: World Languages Resource Teacher

School: Orange County Public Schools

School District: Orange County Public Schools

City, State: Orlando, Florida

About the Nominee: Johanna Lopez was nominated by Orange County Public Schools superintendent, Barbara Jenkins. “Crecemos juntos.” Or, in English, “We grow together.”

That is the philosophy of Johanna Lopez when she enters her classroom. She has been teaching at Colonial High School since 1999, and she believes that caring teachers and an appreciation for one’s culture are key ingredients for student success.

In her case, it shows. During the 2014-15 school year, 100 percent of her Advanced Placement (AP) Spanish students passed their AP Spanish exams. Ms. Lopez also helped increase the enrollment in AP Spanish to more than 400 students in a record 12 AP Spanish classes, up from less than 100 a few short years ago.

If you sit in on any of her classes, you’ll see why. She makes every student feel valued and loved, and that they can achieve anything they want. “I feel so honored to be a teacher,” Lopez says, “not only because I’m inspired by my students, but also because I can inspire them to find their path with dignity, pride and confidence.”

Success in the classroom is only part of the approach that Ms. Lopez takes to change the lives of her students. As the creator and advisor of the Hispanic Honor Society, she steered the group towards completing more than 2,100 hours of community service. Additionally, through work with Mi Familia Vota, Ms. Lopez held a voter registration drive that resulted in more than 500 Colonial High School students becoming new voters.

The commitment Ms. Lopez has for her students was recently recognized when she was named as the Orange County Public Schools Teacher of the Year. She was selected among 186 other nominees from schools across the district.

Ms. Lopez is the first Hispanic Teacher in the history of the Florida district to be honored. She will now serve as the district’s nominee for the 2017 Florida Department of Education/Macy’s Teacher of the Year.

Ms. Lopez is dedicated, service-minded and passionate about ensuring that her students grow intellectually and as leaders in our community. She has changed the lives of countless students for nearly two decades, and her drive for teaching is worthy of honor.