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Thursday, February 4, 2021

Teresa Murphy Named M-DCPS Teacher of the Year, Nerissa Manela is Rookie Teacher of the Year

Teresa E. Murphy, 2022 Francisco R. Walker Teacher of the Year

Teresa Ellen Murphy’s inspiration for teaching is simple – it is her students at Spanish Lake Elementary School. The 27-year veteran 3rd-grade teacher was named the 2022 Francisco R. Walker Miami-Dade County Teacher of the Year in a virtual ceremony that was live streamed this evening.

Teaching is a lifelong passion for Murphy, who believes that students must take ownership of their learning to reach their full potential. She created a daily “Home Learning Organizational Chart” for students and parents to monitor and reflect on their work. She wants to impact students’ lives in such a way that 20 years later, they return grateful for the kindness, understanding and special attention they received. Such was the case with a recent invitation to the law school graduation of a former kindergartener.


Murphy is always the first to share new practices and technology with her colleagues and utilizes her data analysis and grant writing skills to innovate and enhance the learning experience.


She involves students in community service projects like collecting toys for homeless youth, and creating awareness about stroke prevention, as she suffered a stroke in 2012. This year, as she battles other health challenges, she demonstrates to her students the power of determination, positivity, and perseverance. Developing compassion, citizenship and a sense of community is her goal – as “good humans” are just as important as “good students.” 


Click here for a video from Murphy’s school, Spanish Lake Elementary.


The runner-up is Yolette Mezadieu from Miami Edison Senior High School.

The top rookie teachers were also recognized at the event.


Nerissa Manela, 2021 Rookie Teacher of the Year.

Nerissa Manela, a music teacher from Morningside K-8 Academy, was named the 2021 Rookie Teacher of the Year. Describing herself as determined, when she was six years old, Manela recalls asking her parents for violin lessons. That musical instrument has led to her career. While cultivating an appreciation for the arts and uncovering hidden talents, she also introduces students to multiple musical genres and cultures.

Click here for a video from Morningside K-8 Academy.

Erica Echeverri of TERRA Environmental Research Institute is the runner-up.

The signature sponsors are South Florida Educational Federal Credit Union, United Way of Miami-Dade, Office Depot, Univision 23 and Kendall Toyota, which will present the Teacher of the Year winner with the keys to a new car. The event is made possible through partnerships with United Teachers of Dade (UTD), the Miami-Dade County Council of PTAs/PTSAs, and the Dade Association of School Administrators.

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