Mondays with Maria: Stellar Winners
Posted on 02/26/2024
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Announcer: Welcome to Mondays with Maria, presented by Addition Financial Credit Union. Here's OCPS Superintendent Dr. Maria Vazquez.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Hi everyone. It's so exciting to have all four of our Stellar Award winners here today. I'm proud to introduce our 2024 Teacher of the Year, Sara Hudson from Prairie Lake Elementary, Rina Santiago, our district Support Person of the Year from Evans High School, our Principal of the year Becky Watson from East River High School, and the Assistant Principal of the Year from Rolling Hills Elementary. Charisse Hurdle. Congratulations again to all of you a well-deserved honor. You were selected from hundreds of honorees that we celebrated during our annual Stellar Awards event earlier this month. One of my favorite nights of the year. To see the best of the best in one room is absolutely incredible. I hope you all felt the love and support because it was overflowing. We want our families to get to know you a little bit better. So, I'm going to start with Miss Hudson, our Teacher of the Year from..

Sara Hudson: Prairie Lake Elementary School.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: And you're a reading teacher?

Sara Hudson: I'm a reading teacher.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: So tell us, how long have you been teaching?

Sara Hudson: I've been teaching for 11 years within OCPS and altogether in my profession.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Oh my goodness. Yes. That's amazing. So would you tell us what are you most proud of in your classroom?

Sara Hudson: Yes, I first want to say thank you so much Dr. Vazquez, for inviting me. It's truly an honor to represent OCPS as Teacher of the Year. If I had to choose one thing that I am most proud of in my classroom, it's the community that I built. It's called Miss Hudson's Hangout. And it is not just ice cream socials, even though we do that, and it's not just me trying to beat the kids in a relay race, even though we do that as well. But it is the bond and the commitment that we set up in my classroom that at the end of the day, nobody's going to get left behind. We're going to make sure that we learn, we're going to make sure that we encourage each other, and at the end of the day, we're going to say, watch out world. We're going to take it by storm.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Oh my gosh. It's so important to create that environment where children feel that they're safe, they're supported, that they belong. Yes. So that's amazing. So now let's shift to Miss. Santiago, our Support Person of the Year from Evans High School. And you are an external bookkeeper, correct?

Rina Santiago: That is correct.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: And for those who may not know, what are the responsibilities of an external bookkeeper?

Rina Santiago: First of all, I want to say thank you for this honor. As an external bookkeeper, I maintain the account of a bookkeeping. I also collaborate with vendors and assure that the students get what they need for their success.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: So the money person.

Rina Santiago: The money,

Dr. Maria Vazquez: All right.

Rina Santiago: Money is important,

Dr. Maria Vazquez: We're so thankful that you provide such a service to our students and to the community at Evans.

Rina Santiago: Thank you so much.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Now I think we're going to talk to our principal of the year, Becky Watson from East River High School. And Becky, you attended Orange County Public Schools, right? As a student?

Becky Watson: Yes.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: And now full circle, you are leading one of our high schools. Tell us what it means to you to represent OCPS with this distinction.

Becky Watson: Thank you Dr. Vazquez. I went to Rolling Hills Elementary School. Wow. Yes, Meadowbrook Middle School. Evans High School, and I graduated from West Orange High School. Not only am I an alumni, my husband and all four of my children. Wow. So quite literally, orange County Public Schools has raised my family. So this is such an amazing opportunity for me to represent our district. I am here because of the teachers that I had in this district. Ms. Eleanor Coates in my third grade class was one of the most influential people at Rolling Hills, and she is a reason why I'm able to come and represent. So it just feels like family. It's always been my home, and it's amazing to be able to represent.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Oh my gosh, that's just amazing. And we're so thankful that you and your family are OCPS. Thank you. And now last, but certainly not least, Miss Hurdle, our Assistant Principal of the Year from Rolling Hills Elementary. Like most jobs on school campuses, you must wear a lot of different hats.

Charisse Hurdle: I do.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: So tell us, what is the favorite, your favorite part of being an assistant principal?

Charisse Hurdle: Okay. Well, thank you Superintendent Vazquez. It's great to be here, but my favorite part is being able to serve my community in multiple ways. First, by ensuring that our students feel safe, loved, appreciated and when they have that sense of belonging on campus, they're going to thrive and do their best. And building capacity within our teachers so they can give the best instruction to our students. And additionally, providing support for our parents, not just within the walls of our school, but within the community and in the sense of resources that can be provided to them.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Wow. Can you see why they are our winners? As a Stellar Award recipient, you will all represent OCPS in the state level competitions in your categories. I couldn't be prouder to cheer you on. Keep up the great work. We are so proud of you. Thank you for joining me today, and thank you for watching. Stay tuned for another Mondays with Maria next week.

Announcer: Mondays with Maria's presented by Addition Financial Credit Union. Count us in for every step of your financial journey. Learn more at For more OCPS news and information, visit I'm your announcer Deivarsi Demezier, a senior at Apopka High School. Thanks for watching and have a great week.