University of Miami alumna tapped as finalist for 'Teacher of the Year'

By Barbara Gutierrez

University of Miami alumna tapped as finalist for 'Teacher of the Year'

By Barbara Gutierrez
Hope Grant, an educator in the vocational education category, has left an impression on many students during her 33-year career.

Hope Grant began her teaching career as an eight year old in her native Jamaica. During her summer vacation, she would give lessons to the shrubs and bushes in her backyard until eventually neighborhood kids began to stream in for her impromptu classes.

“Undoubtedly, teaching was already my passion and I saw those days of summer as a heaven-sent opportunity to hone my craft,” she said.

Fast forward to the present. Grant’s passion for teaching is just as alive. The University of Miami School of Education and Human Development graduate, who received her Masters of Science in 2002, has been selected as a finalist for Teacher of the Year in the Vocational Education category by the Miami Dade County Public Schools. She was picked from a pool of 3,000 teachers.

With 33 years of teaching under her belt, Grant is well known as a dedicated educator who gets to know her students well and encourages them to succeed no matter what circumstances they may be going through.

She is presently an English teacher at C.O.P.E. Center North, a specialized school for teen mothers.

Luis Diaz, assistant superintendent for Miami Dade County Public Schools, said of Grant: “The young women that Ms. Grant teaches are faced with the challenges of being both students and parents. She realizes the importance of helping her students make a connection to real life situations.”

While at the school, Grant has had great success in advancing student learning, said Diaz. During the 2017-2018 school year, the English/Language Arts Department earned 53 points in learning gains. The gains were achieved thanks to an individualized plan Grant created for each student that highlighted areas for improvement. She also implemented measures for teachers to target areas where students needed to improve in standardized testing, such as the Florida Standard Assessment.

Grant is also credited with improving the graduation rate for the school.     

“Teachers are born and not made,” said Grant. “I see myself as a builder of lives. Besides the math, reading, and writing, how are you preparing children for life?”

Recently, Grant was delighted to learn that two of her students whom she taught as kindergartners in the Bahamas were professionals in the fields of medicine and law. 

She has had a golden touch for turning challenging schools around with her talent as a teacher and a reading coach. She worked at Miami Edison High School and Miami Norland Senior High School, and left her mark in both institutions.

Before that, while teaching at Lillie Evans Elementary SchooI, she was accepted to a UM satellite master’s program that was being held after hours at Poinciana Park Elementary.

She attended the program after she finished her full-time job and often took her 8-year-old daughter with her to class. She remembers how outstanding her UM teachers were. “The program was demanding, but worth it,” she said.  

One of her colleagues at C.O.P.E., Christine Samuels, said of her: “She believes all students can succeed and encourages students to work toward this goal.”

The winner for Teacher of the Year will be announced on Thursday at Doubletree by Hilton near Miami International Airport.