Jack-Arthur Whitlock, Staff Writer
Ms. Icaza teaches Health Science at Miami Springs Senior High. Her skills in the subject include the anatomy of the human body, the studies of what it means to be healthy and the practices and knowledge a medical doctor may need to treat a patient. There are many cohesive and interesting facts about health science with the uses of activities and curriculum to make sure her students understand the material. Ms. Icaza was given an interview to get to know her, her thoughts on teaching, and what she thinks about being Teacher of the Year.
We asked: How long have you been teaching?
Icaza answered: “At Miami Springs Senior High School I’ve been teaching now for approximately 20 years.”
And before that?
“I worked in the medical field for about 17 years.”
Interesting. Is this your first Teacher of the Year award?
“No. I received teacher of the year award back in 2006.”
What’s your greatest accomplishment?
“I think fortunately in life I have two degrees. I have a bachelors in medical lab technology, and I hold a masters degree in science education. I think the fact that I have been able to balance my personal life with my professional life has been very rewarding, and I love what I do. I love my life as a teacher. I teach at Miami Dade College. I teach young people here in Miami Springs High School. I love my job and that’s it.”
What award have you received do you value the most?
“I got an award for “Univision” a few years ago, “Un maestro especial” award, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen was actually the one that presented the awards to all the teachers in Miami Dade County that received that award. I think that was very nice. It was a great banquet, and the fact that for the teacher of the year, my old colleagues get to vote and select another professional here at the school–I think was very nice. I really didn’t expect for them to select me or anything because all the candidates were great and so worthy of it but it was truly an honor to receive that award from my peer teachers.”
What about your subject makes you want to teach it?
“The fact that the medical program here at the high school is tied into what I did in my other career I think was one of the most rewarding things that I get to be able to teach students, give them exposure to the medical field, inspire them and hopefully they pursue a career in medicine is very rewarding.”
What advice would you give to students who want to take up teaching in their futures?
” I hope that no matter what you do in life you are passionate about it. It’s not just going into education because you want a way out , it’s to go into education because you’re passionate about it. I think students from Day 1 walk into your classroom, once they get to know you, once they get to see you, they know if you’re passionate or not about what you do and that you do a good job. Doesn’t matter what you do, if you’re passionate about it and that you give your best in anything that you do.”
Sounds like you really enjoy what you do.
What advice would you give to those wanting to be a part of the medical field?
“Any student or anybody whether you’re an adult or teenager who would like to pursue a career in medicine I say that: One, you’re going to have to study a lot. Two, That you’re passionate about what medical field you’re going into. It is very diverse. You work with people so compassion, honestly, all the characteristics I think everybody should have especially passion for working with people who are very ill. Understanding that you always make a difference even if sometimes our patients pass away, but knowing that you always did the best that you could to make a difference in their lives.”
What about teaching, was that your first choice for a career?
“It was not. Medicine was always my first, and I did have an opportunity to teach adults that were coming into the medical field that were doing their clinical rotation, so I knew I loved the teaching part I was just not sure if high school or adults was going to be the route I was going to choose maybe in the future. But it turned out that life brought me in this direction and I never regretted it.”
And if there is anything you want your students to take away from your teachings as they move on from teens to young adults, what would it be?
“For my students I always say success is a journey not a destination, that no matter what they choose in life, we’re here for them. All teachers at Miami Springs, all administrators are here for our students, want the best for our students, that we hope we have inspired you and have made a difference in your life and that if medicine is something you choose to go to, hopefully you can reflect back on all the teachers that have definitely made a difference and helped you along the way to choose that career as your future.”
Ms. Icaza is a wise and devoted teacher. She continues to teach and to inspire others at Miami Springs High School.