Each week through our Faculty/Staff Spotlight series, we invite our community members to get to know Gulliver Prep teachers and staff members across every division. This week, our Spotlight features Mrs. Maria Paula Castro, Middle School Dean of Students, EDGE Program. Read on to learn what attracted her to our school, her goals as our newest Dean of Students, and more.
Q: Welcome to Gulliver Prep! What attracted you to our school, and what is your favorite thing about Gulliver so far?
A: The idea of academic excellence regardless of demographic background has always been the pursuit of my educational career while working as an educator in public schools. Gulliver has made this one of its principles that has contributed to the school’s success and reputation. Although I have just recently joined the school, I have experienced great camaraderie and a collaborative environment in addition to a very positive environment around the school.
Q: What are you most excited about for your role as our newest Dean of Students?
A: One of the most important aspects of being the Dean of Students is to be able to be part of the students’ growth, and to have the opportunity to positively impact their lives. I am extremely excited to be part of this amazing institution and awesome leadership team, and to be able to enhance and foster a positive, engaging, and caring school environment.
Q: You have extensive experience with Middle School students. What inspired you to work with this age group, and what do you enjoy most about it?
A: Middle School is possibly one of the most important stages in our students’ development and education. During these years our boys and girls experience so many changes, develop personality traits, study habits, curiosity, and it is a critical moment for emotional development. What I have enjoyed the most during my 15 years as a Middle School foreign language teacher and dean, is seeing the growth of students pushing themselves to test limits, and to learn from the mistakes they make along the way. But, most important is guiding them to understand that challenges are essential for them to succeed.
Q: In 2019, you were named Teacher of the Year. To what do you credit that accomplishment, and how did it feel to earn the honor?
A: The best way to describe how I felt when I was nominated as Teacher of the Year, was that I felt that my mission as an educator was noticed. Education is a very challenging profession. You need passion to be part of this beautiful endeavor to educate children. My Spanish classes were a daily adventure where students were inspired to achieve their personal best. As the Dean of Students, I was able to lead the school to achieve a high attendance participation placing first in the region. In addition to that I successfully inspired students, teachers, and parents to work collaboratively, enhancing a positive and rigorous learning environment.
Q: What’s something you’d like for the Gulliver Prep community to know about you?
A: I want the Gulliver community to know that I am here to provide support to students, teachers, and families. My goal is to foster a safe learning environment. I have acquired a commitment with the school to ensure that students feel supported and welcomed while at school.
Raider Rapid Fire!
Favorite local restaurant: Miami is a multicultural place with a big variety of cuisines which makes it difficult to only have one favorite. But If I have to choose, I will choose Peacock Garden in Coconut Grove.
The last book you read:I am currently reading Student Conduct Practice. I enjoy being up-to-date with current practices in education.
Your go-to commute soundtrack and why: I love the song “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith. I can only say it makes me feel happy.
Favorite afternoon pick-me-up: I love to have a cup of coffee.
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