COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. — As a part of Hispanic Heritage Month, school leaders in Collier County gave special recognition to individuals contributing to migrant students' success.
“Each of these individuals demonstrates hard work, perseverance, and dedication,” said Chad Oliver, Executive Director of Communications for CCPS.
During a board meeting Tuesday, Collier County Public Schools recognized several people recently honored with a Florida Exemplary Migrant Education Award.
Each year, teachers, staff members, and students in migrant programs across the state are considered for these awards.
The migrant education program helps families with anything from registration and college prep to school supplies and clothes.
“We were lucky to have four-winners this year for the state of Florida,” said Marlene Dimas, Migrant Program Coordinator for CCPS.
One of those people honored Tuesday was Lucio Martinez, this year’s recipient of the 2020 Migrant Success Story of the Year Award.
“This migrant program really helped me through middle school and high school,” said Martinez.
Growing up in Immokalee, Martinez migrated with his family following the tomato crop.
He graduated from Immokalee High School in 2007 and then headed to the University of Florida to study engineering.
“Looking back on it, it provided me with a lot of opportunities that I don’t think I would have had otherwise," said Martinez.
Fast forward to 2020, Martinez is now a structural engineer.
While no longer a student in the program, his story is an inspiration for others.
“I think everyone has the ability to do something like this, you just need to really put in the time and the effort, and you’ll develop those skills that you need,” said Martinez.
“When I heard his story, I said, that's what it’s all about," said Olga Martinez, a resource teacher for the migrant program at CCPS.
Olga Martinez is this year’s recipient of the 2020 migrant teacher of the year award.
She's been with the Collier County Public School's migrant program since 2008.
“I really enjoy working with the families because they are so appreciative, and they want someone to be their ally, to be their spokesperson because a lot of them don’t speak English," said Olga Martinez.
On Tuesday, the board recognized Olga for her commitment to helping migrant students improve their reading and writing skills.
While the recognition is a nice surprise, Olga says helping her students is the real reward.
“That’s what drives us, to help our students succeed,” said Olga Martinez.
Winners of a Florida Exemplary Migrant Education Award within Collier County include:
- 2020 Migrant Community Volunteer of the Year - Benison Center
- 2020 Migrant Staff Development Employee of the Year - Luz Echeverri
- 2020 Migrant Success Story of the Year - Lucio Martinez
- 2020 Migrant Teacher/Educator of the Year - Olga Martinez
- 2020 National Migrant Student of the Year - Aida Garcia
Dimas says about three-thousand students are part of the migrant program in Collier County.
Migrant families are those who move around for seasonal work.