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MDCPS: 1450 NE 2nd Ave,
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Tuesday, May 21, 2019
CONTACT:  Daisy Gonzalez-Diego
Miami-Dade County Public Schools

Winners of Inaugural Superintendent’s Innovation Challenge Wow Community

Three two-student teams from Hialeah-Miami Lakes Senior High, Coral Gables Senior High, and Coral Reef Senior High and School for Advanced Studies-South were named winners of the first-ever Superintendent’s Student Innovation Challenge, and each team was awarded $20,000 in scholarship funds.


Twelve teams were chosen to present their solution for a real-world problem. Using their knowledge, creativity and the help of a “Pitch Coach,” they developed an innovative solution and then had three minutes to present it à la TV’s “Shark Tank” to a panel of judges. The categories were environmental, health, and social.


In the health category, team “CognitiveBotics” from Hialeah-Miami Lakes Senior High comprised of Brian Rodriguez and Luis Salazar was named the winner. Their coach was Ivan Yaeger, president of The Yaeger Companies.

The team from Coral Gables Senior High, “Closing The Opportunity Gap,” which included Christian Ochoa and Maria Estrada, won the prize in the social category. Their coach was Tina Brown, executive director of the Overtown Youth Center. And in the environmental category, team C.T.O.A.E. (Conserving the Oceans and Environment) from Coral Reef Senior High and Schools for Advanced Studies South, included Jonathan Wong and Luis Garcia-Sarabia.

Superintendent Carvalho presents a $20,000 check to the Coral Gables Senior High team, Cristian Ochoa and Maria Estrada, who stand with their pitch coach Tina Brown, left, executive director of the Overtown Youth Center.

The judges were Dianne Vidoni, CEO of eMerge Americas, an ecosystem that is transforming Miami into the tech hub of the Americas; Romi Bhatia, executive director of The Idea Center at Miami Dade College, which provides cutting-edge programming in technology and entrepreneurial training; Robert Hacker, co-founder and director of StartUP FIU, which supports researchers, inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs to conceive, launch and scale solutions; and Ebony Smith, founder of Ebenum Equation, which provides leadership development and employee experience design services through coaching, facilitation, workshops and talent development.

Team C.T.O.A.E. (Conserving the Oceans and Environment), comprised of Luis Garcia-Sarabia and Jonathan Wong, are surrounded by their Pitch Coach Amy Padolf, director of education for Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens and Superintendent Carvalho.

The remaining students did not leave empty-handed. They were each awarded $500 cash prizes thanks to donations by Toyota of North Miami and the Miami Dolphins organization.

The Innovation Challenge came about when Superintendent Carvalho donated the $10,000 prize he received for being recognized as National Urban Superintendent of the Year. Thanks to the generous matching contributions of community leaders who supported this initiative, $60,000 in scholarships funds were collected.

For the most up-to-date information, please download the Dadeschools mobile app to your iPhone or Android device.  Follow us on Twitter @mdcps and @miamisup and on Facebook at MiamiSchools and AlbertoCarvalho.

TOP CAPTION:  Schools Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho (center) presents a $20,000 prize to the team from Hialeah-Miami Lakes Senior High - Brian Rodriguez and Luis Salazar. They are flanked by North Region Superintendent Jose Bueno, left, and the students’ “Pitch Coach” Ivan Yaeger, right, president of The Yaeger Companies.

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