Isamari Medina Montes is the parent engagement liaison at Maxey Elementary School, and her job is to foster partnerships between the school and families to support student achievement. She helps parent workshops that allow families to learn a new academic skill or concept, engage in a practice opportunity and receive feedback. She emphasizes a culture that prioritizes building relationships, addressing differences, supporting parent advocacy and shared decision-making.
Her hard work was highlighted when she was named this year’s Support Person of the Year.
“Students count on (Isamari) Medina to greet them with a smile and a warm hello,” Principal Carletta Davis-Wilson. “She acts quickly to get students needed supplies to help them have a successful day in school. Her positive relationships with families fosters trust and builds an appreciation for the home-school connection. Mrs. Medina works collaboratively with community partners to stock the food pantry, get donations of essential items and even shelter for those experiencing hardships. She always shows a spirit of excellence behind the scenes to keep our students center stage.”
What brought you to your school?
Fate was the one who brought me to Maxey Elementary. After Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, I moved to Florida looking for a better life for my daughter. The school zoned for her was Maxey, and it could not have been a better school. The next school year I became the treasurer of the PTA, and when the position of the parent engagement liaison became available, I did not hesitate for a minute. I knew I wanted to be part of this incredible family.
What do you love most about your school?
The best way I can explain it is: “Teamwork makes the dream work.” We work as a team, and we appreciate and value each other’s efforts.
What is your motivation?
My motivation is my daughter, Isis Nahir. I want her to be proud of me and to learn from me that life is not easy, but we have our destiny in our hands. We just must work hard to get where you want to be in life.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Without a doubt, the most rewarding part of my job is when I can help parents and see them with tears in their eyes full of gratitude; and, of course, my daily dose of happiness in the mornings, greeting each kid and their parents in the car loop and receiving so much love.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Usually, I do not have too much spare time because I have a second job, but when I can I love to ride a motorcycle with my husband.
Who was your favorite teacher when you were in school? Why?
I would say it was my Spanish teacher, Mrs. Colón. She was the kind of teacher that would go the extra mile just to help you understand concepts and just be better in school. I would cry every day in the beginning of the semester, and she sat next to me for more than half the class just so I would not cry.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Why?
I wanted to be a veterinarian because helping has been always in me. I wanted to help animals and take care of them; I wanted to have my sanctuary of animals.
What is your favorite children’s book and why?
I grew up in Puerto Rico in the 1990s, and by then the neighborhood where my school was located was in the countryside. I did not had access to books that I could read at home — inside the school, and there was not much time to do it. I am visual, and I loved seeing Punky Brewster. Her story always touches me.
What are your hobbies?
I love to hear music, decorate, create things and do some light car mechanics when I have the time.
If you could have any super power, what would it be and why?
My super power would be the power of healing with my hands because there are too many sick kids in this world that deserves to have a life free of sickness.
If you could only listen to three bands or artists for the rest of your life, what would they be and why?
It would be Adele, Kany Garcia and Ednita Nazario, because they are whole-artist women — composers, producers, businesswomen that empowered me through hard times.
How long have you been at your school and with OCPS?
I have been at Maxey and OCPS for a year and four months.