Alexandre Lopes is teacher of the year for Miami-Dade County.
He seems almost uneasy in the spotlight The quiet Brazilian native has a last name that rhymes with “ropes,” and would ask you to just call him Alex, like his four-year-old students do.
“It is magical when you walk into his classroom,” said Pat Bloodworth-Johnson, who is his principal. “His gentle spirit, you can tell there’s that underlying."
Lopes is studying for his doctorate in education at Florida International University and was selected from the county’s 24,000 teachers. He has spent eight years teaching pre-kindergarten at Carol City Elementary school in a classroom that includes autistic students.
“I just like it,” said Lopes. “It doesn’t feel like work.”
He laughs when he recalls putting on a suit for an interview, then having his students ask him if he was going to “work” that day.
“They grow with you,” Lopes said of his students.
Commissioner Barbara Jordan called Lopes “amazing” as she handed him a plaque.
He also gets to take home $4,500 dollars, $1,000 for his elementary school, a new Toyota, a NOVA scholarship, and a golden apple. The apple is his favorite.
“I do my best,” he said. “My best sometimes is not enough. But right now it feels great, it really does.”
Lopes will now go on to compete for teacher of the year of Florida.