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By Will Searcy,
Marketing Director, Rosarian Academy
September 19, 2023, West Palm Beach, Florida – The passion for educating elementary students took Rosarian Academy fourth-grade teacher Mildred Acosta from West Palm Beach to Kenya in the summer of 2022 and then onto the stage at The Ben on September 7 to accept the 2023 Educator of the Year Award from Palm Beach Illustrated. Mildred was named one of six finalists in the annual competition. After an online vote in July, she was announced as the winner during the two-hour event on September 7.
“It is an honor to have received The Educator of the Year award,” Mildred said. “I’m thankful to the Rosarian Academy community for all their support and encouragement. I feel blessed every morning knowing I will be doing a job I love. I aspire to continue making a difference in my students’ lives.”
“We are proud not only of this great achievement by Mrs. Acosta but also of the remarkable work she does to build up her students each day and provide them with the educational foundation they will lean on for success the rest of their lives,” said Dr. Linda Trethewey, Head of the School. “All of us at Rosarian Academy will celebrate this win with Mrs. Acosta. Our team couldn’t be happier for her, and I couldn’t be prouder of the incredible team we have at the school. From the administration to the faculty and staff, we have an inspiring group of educators dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of our students.”
Joy VanDyke, a guidance counselor at Rosarian Academy, participated in a panel discussion about mental health in schools as part of the September 7 program.
In more than a decade of experience, Mildred has focused on meeting her students’ needs while instilling values such as kindness, service, and respect that will serve as their foundation for the rest of their lives. She customizes her lesson plans to make them meaningful for her students, often incorporating their interests or hobbies to help engage them in the material. In this way, she allows the students’ unique passions to enhance their ability to achieve.
On a personal level, Mildred has seen how her passion for education and the environment has made a lasting impact. In the summer of 2022, accompanied by her son, Rosarian Academy eighth-grade student Santino Merchan, she embarked on a “dream” trip to Kenya to collaborate with educators at the Kijana Global Innovation School to achieve greater outcomes for their students.
Partnering with the school’s founding organization, the Kijana Educational Empowerment Initiative, Mildred modeled phonics lessons for its educators and guided them in differentiating instruction and implementing hands-on activities for their students. She used environmental themes, including an ecological awareness lesson centered around Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax.
Mildred’s passion for the environment continues at Rosarian Academy today. She has incorporated gardening into her students’ science curriculum for several years. The program has grown and partnered with Fresh Rx to teach organic, sustainable gardening techniques to first- to sixth-grade students. The gardening program also incorporates age-appropriate science lessons into the curriculum, ranging from nutrition and the life cycle of plants to barometric pressure readings and the effects of weather patterns on plants.
Founded in 1925, Rosarian Academy educates students from early childhood through eighth grade and offers a robust academic program enriched by athletics, visual and performing arts, and community service opportunities. The independent Catholic school was founded by the Adrian Dominican Sisters. For information, visit www.rosarian.org or call 561-345-3106.