Sixth-grader spoke with Dr. Vazquez
Posted on 04/24/2023
Mondays with Maria Banner



Dr. Maria Vazquez: Hello everyone. I'm Maria Vazquez, Superintendent of Orange County Public Schools. Welcome back to Mondays with Maria. We've had a few guest segments recently and some students have taken notice. I was recently asked if one of our students could come and ask me some questions. So I'd like to introduce Parker Shanoff. She's in the sixth grade at Howard Middle School. Hi Parker. Thank you for joining me this morning.

Parker Shanoff: Hi. Thank you for having me.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: I understand that you have some questions for me. I can't wait to hear what you've got to ask.

Parker Shanoff: Yes, I do. My first question is, what did you want to be when you were growing up? Did you always want to be a Superintendent?

Dr. Maria Vazquez: No, I did not always want to be a Superintendent. I actually wanted to be an architect when I was younger. The idea of becoming a Superintendent was not one that entered my mind until about, I want to say about six years ago.

Parker Shanoff: Oh. What was your toughest challenge you had to overcome when you were a student in school?

Dr. Maria Vazquez: So, my toughest challenge was that I didn't speak the language. And I remember, I literally remember my first day of school. I remember I was wearing this pink dress with a white collar. My parents dropped me off and I was so scared. And I can actually see myself sitting on the stairs in front of the classroom crying because I wanted my mom, I wanted my dad, I wanted to go home. And that for me was the hardest part of schooling. And then once I was able to learn the language I had wonderful teachers that were very understanding. School was a place where I really loved to be. I felt that I was successful. I felt that I had people that had my back, that wanted me to do well. And so I think my biggest challenge was overcoming my language barrier.

Parker Shanoff: That's great. My next for you is, what do you enjoy most about being Superintendent?

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Hmm. That's a hard one. So, there's so many things that I really love about the job, but I think what I like the most is the people that I get to meet with and hear what their concerns are, hear about ideas that they have about how we can make things better in our school system. I love hearing how much our community supports Orange County Public Schools and being able to be in a position where I can work with so many stakeholders to make our school system a better one is what I love the most.

Parker Shanoff: That's great. What message would you like to share with OCPS students?

Dr. Maria Vazquez: I want our students to know that we are all here because of them, because of you. Our teachers, our support staff, our administrators, bus drivers all of us are here to be able to provide each one of you a place where you feel safe, place where you feel supported, a place where you can really thrive and have so many opportunities that when you leave us, you are ready to take on the world.

Parker Shanoff: Spare time is probably hard to come by in your role, when you aren't busy with your responsibilities as Superintendent, what do you enjoy doing?

Dr. Maria Vazquez: So, my number one love is my family. So being able to spend time with my husband, my children, I have three beautiful grandchildren that bring joy into my life and literally rejuvenate me. And I also love to read and I love to shop, a lot. So those are the things that I, I do to try and relax and rejuvenate.

Parker Shanoff: That's awesome.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: So can I ask you a question?

Parker Shanoff: Of course.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Okay. So as Superintendent, what can I do for students? What advice do you have for me?

Parker Shanoff: The advice that I would have for you is to make sure that students like me are getting good high quality education. And by education I mean like good teachers, good school lunch, good technology, and good bus transport.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Okay. Great. Nice plug for the technology. This has been so much fun. We would love to have more students participate in our conversations. If you have a student who's interested in being a guest, send us your contact information to [email protected] and I'll see you next week.

Parker Shanoff: Thank you for watching Mondays with Maria.

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