Honoring Marlene Cabrera


Marlene Cabrera

Curriculum Support Specialist

Miami, FL

As a young child, Marlene Cabrera and her family immigrated to the United States leaving behind family and memories of their beloved Cuba. Growing up in Chicago and being the only Hispanic in a primarily Polish neighborhood was difficult but her parents instilled in her the desire to have a better life in a free and democratic country. This responsibility, to be the first to graduate and receive an education, became her driving force to succeed. The shiny bowling trophies her elementary teacher held up to the class as a reward for academic excellence became her second inspiration. Ms. Cabrera had never seen anything so precious and special in her young life. During her teen years, her family moved to Miami, where she found a community that reintroduced her to her Cuban heritage and culture.

As an educator, Ms. Cabrera had the privilege of teaching several subject in the secondary environment: English, Journalism, Art, Drama, ESOL, Reading, and AP Language & Composition. She earned a Masters in Reading and National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT) certification in Adolescent/Young Adult English Language Arts. She served several years as a Reading Coach liaison at Terra Environmental Research Institute, a magnet school in MDCPS. She had the privilege to work for The Florida Literacy and Reading Excellence (FLaRe) Program grant at the University of Central Florida sponsored by the Just Read, Florida Office. As a FLaRe Coordinator, Ms. Cabrera worked with literacy professionals from various districts and presented literacy workshops statewide while providing support to Reading Coaches in the Miami-Dade County area. As a FLaRE Coordinator, she served as an expert commentator on LEaRN, a reading literacy website. Ms. Cabrera’s multiple certifications in Gifted Education, English, ESOL, Art and Reading have provided her the avenue in which to be able to reach many Hispanic students at different language levels.

Currently, Ms. Cabrera is the Curriculum Support Specialist for the Department of Bilingual and World Languages for Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Along with a team of highly qualified professions from the department, they presented at NABE and will continue to present best practices for their ESOL students as the district continues to adapt the WIDA standards. In addition, she is a trainer for the ESOL and Reading Endorsements for Miami-Dade County Public Schools and for Beaconeducator.com. As an Adjunct for Miami Dade College, Ms. Cabrera has also had the opportunity to assist students of various ages reach their dream of a college education by teaching remedial courses for the College Prep Department.

Why do you teach?

I teach because I love to share my passion for learning. I remember telling my mother after my Masters degrees that I was done with learning and school. She shrugged and smiled. Five years later, I was applying for National Boards certification. Learning is fun! If I could share this passion with others and transfer this joy to multitudes of children, then the world would be a much better place. I also teach because I feel that to maintain a democracy its citizens must be properly educated and well informed. The future of this great democracy lies on the education of our children.

What do you love about teaching?

I love being creative and inspiring the magic that happens when you learn. I love developing thematic units around big ideas such as gender roles, multicultural education, civil responsibilities, and personal identity. I love being there for newly arrived English Language Learners (ELLs) and helping them make the language and cultural transition. I love teaching and believing with a strong sense of efficacy that ELLs are capable of achieving great heights if given a rigorous and appropriate education.

When you were a student, was there a great teacher who inspired you?

As a student at Frank W. Reilly K-8 in Chicago, I was blessed to have had amazing educators who inspired me to learn and grow. Every teacher added to my intellectual growth and artistic development. I was allowed to help teachers design bulletin boards, enter Science Fairs, and learn English. At Madonna High School, I learned about religion, spirituality, and camaraderie. At Miami Coral Park, I met Dr, Moore who welcomed me with a thoughtful daily quote and taught me to love literature as a critical independent thinker. Although stoic and stern, he was approachable and provided me with advice that turned my high school graduation day into a successful family encounter.