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Why Many Teachers at Miami High are Alumni

Senior picture of English teacher Ms. Wilson who graduated in 2012



   Miami Senior High is a school with a rich history, dating back to 1903 when it was founded, making it an integral part of the Miami community. In a school known for its academic excellence, vibrant activities, and dedicated educators, Miami High takes pride in its diverse student body and staff, with many staff alumni of the school. 

   Among the alumni who have returned to work at Miami High are TV production teacher Mr. Amaya, English teacher Ms. Wilson, social studies teacher Ms. Yanes, and principal Mr. Valdes. The decision of these individuals to return to their alma mater reflects the impact Miami High has had on their lives. 


Mr. Amaya: From News Networks to Nurturing Creativity 

   TV Production teacher Mr. Amaya graduated from Miami High in 2007 and had a great experience as a student. He was involved in various activities, such as being a member of Beta and serving as a class officer. He first attended Miami Dade College, and later transferred to the University of Miami and Columbia University, where he earned his master’s in journalism.  

   Mr. Amaya originally worked as a reporter for different news networks such as BBC, CBS, and CNN. However, due to the fast-paced work environment and traveling across the country, he often felt burnt out working these jobs, and this left him ready to transition into a new profession. He states, “I was in the right place at the right time when I discovered an opportunity for a TV production teacher position here at Miami High, and being a teacher has allowed me to be more creative and have a more relaxed schedule.” 

   Proud that he was able to bring the TV Production program back after its popularity had decreased, he hopes he can motivate students to pursue careers in the news industry. Mr. Amaya returning to Miami High and revitalizing the TV production program demonstrates his commitment to shape the future of his students. 

Ms. Wilson: Teaching Inspired by Trust and Familiarity 

   English teacher Ms. Wilson, who graduated with Miami High’s class of 2012, returned to her alma mater more recently. She enjoyed her time as a student, with her favorite memories being homecoming, grad bash, and prom.  

   She states, “I had teachers such as Ms. Puentes and Ms. Cardona that influenced my decision to become an educator.” Ms. Wilson attended Florida State University where she earned her Bachelor’s in English and master’s in educational leadership. 

   Although she never planned to return to Miami High, Ms. Wilson had sisters who were high school students here after she graduated college, and they told her Mr. Valdes wanted her to come in for an interview. After finding out it was for a full-time teaching position, she gladly accepted.  

    Ms. Wilson states, “I chose to return to Miami High because there was a level of familiarity that instantly made me feel comfortable working here. I also appreciated that Mr. Valdes trusted my knowledge and abilities enough for a teaching position.” 

   Ms. Wilson enjoys guiding her students towards their interests and hopes that every Sting graduates with a plan. She states, “I love helping students find what they’re passionate about and helping involve themselves in whatever that is.” 

Ms. Yanes: Teaching for the Magic of Memories 

   Social studies teacher Ms. Yanes, a 1994 graduate, returned to Miami High driven by the joy of her experiences here as a student. She was part of the teaching magnet, yearbook, Key Club and participated in the volleyball and basketball teams. Her favorite high school memory was her pre grad bash trip during junior year.  

    She attended FIU where she earned her bachelor’s in criminal justice.  While a student there, Ms. Yanes coached volleyball for Miami High and decided she wanted to become a teacher at the place where she made the most memories.  

   She states, “I returned to Miami High for the magic,” reflecting the positive experience she had as a student. After discovering an opportunity to become a social studies teacher at Miami High, she gladly accepted the position to share her passion with her students and to help them be successful. 

   Reflecting on the gratitude she’s received from her students, Ms. Yanes states, “I love the thanks I’ve gotten over the years from my former students, the appreciation that they’ve shown, and the stories they’ve told me on how I’ve made a positive impact on their lives.”  

Mr. Valdes: Shaping a Legacy of Success 

   Principal Mr. Valdes, a graduate of Miami High’s class of 1989, had an overall positive high school experience, saying there are lots of great activities offered at Miami High. His favorite memory here was playing on the basketball team. He earned a scholarship to Palm Beach Community College, and later attended FIU and NSU, where he earned his master’s degree in educational leadership. 

   Mr. Valdes said he did not choose to work at Miami High but was assigned here as principal after years serving as a teacher and assistant principal. Mr. Valdes states, “I try to bring back as many alumni as I can to Miami High for the culture and community.” Over the years, he has witnessed many changes at Miami High including classes offered and changes in accountability toward graduation requirements.  

   As an educator and administrator, Mr. Valdes’s impact on the community includes paving the way for students who grew up in the area to take advantage of greater options beyond high school, emphasizing the values of learning, community, and success. 

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