Roberto Mendez is the art teacher at Keene’s Crossing Elementary and joined the Cougars in August 2022. According to Assistant Principal Joy Stribling, Mendez is “energetic and extremely positive, passionate and a very talented artist. Mr. Mendez enjoys sharing his love for the arts, as it is evident in his daily instruction during art class. We are extremely grateful to have Mr. Mendez as one of our KCE Cougars as he expresses the KCE Way by making Positive Splashing of creativity and passion throughout our campus.” Mendez loves “to create art magic and wonders with my little ones to amaze all of those around us.” When he taught in Puerto Rico, he was named Teacher of the Year and Teacher of Excellence.
What brought you to your school?
After moving to Orlando from New Jersey right when COVID started, I struggled to find an art teacher position. Luckily, (last) year, Keene’s posted an art opening right before the beginning of the school year. I was filled with such joy and hope after searching for an art vacancy for so long.
What do you love most about your school?
I love the passion and skill my little ones have for art and how much they enjoy my class. Also, I love how my colleagues are so loving and caring. I see them all as my family.
What is your motivation?
My family’s love is what motivates me. It is because of them that I am this loving and caring to everyone around me.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The most rewarding is displaying my students’ art throughout our hallways. Their hard work truly shines and everyone can see the magic they’re creating in the classroom.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I truly love to spend time with my sister, mom, grams and nephew to cook and play games during our weekly family nights. Oh, and I also love to play and cuddle with my cats.
Who was your favorite teacher when you were in school? Why?
My favorite teacher was actually the librarian, Ms. Aviles, because not only did she instill a love for reading in me but she also encouraged me to use my art to draw the characters and settings I read about.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Why?
As a kid, I always longed to be a comic book artist or an animator so I could bring to life all the fantasy characters I loved reading about.
What is your favorite children’s book and why?
I would say the one I wrote, but I haven’t been able to find a literary agent yet to help me publish it, so I’m gonna go with the one that inspired me to write: Angie Sage’s high fantasy series “Septimus Heap.” It has so much magic and memorable characters that it hooked me immediately.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
I would choose the power to teleport. That way, I can visit famous museums, landmarks and attractions all around the world in just the blink of an eye.
If you could only listen to three bands or artists for the rest of your life, what would they be and why?
To be honest, I don’t listen to any lyrical music. The only music I listen to is new age, some classical and lots of video game soundtracks. So I will pick one composer from each. Cusco for new age, because their music transports you to magical places, Chopin, because of the riveting classical melodies he elaborated, and Yoko Shimomura, because her epic video game soundtracks truly immerse you in the game.
Who was your best friend when you were in school and why? Are you still in touch?
That would be my buddy Carlos. Even though he was one grade higher than me, we had so much in common that we became amazing friends. Currently, he works abroad with the military. Yes, we still keep in touch.
What are your hobbies?
My hobbies gravitate between drawing, reading or playing fantasy video games.
What was your go-to lunch as an elementary student? Any favorite snacks or special treats you remember?
Pizza empanadas was my most favorite. My mom made them, and my grams cooked them for me, and by golly did I taste the love they put into them every time I had them. So yummy!
What is your favorite holiday and why?
Oh, most definitely it’s got to be Halloween, because there’s orange everywhere! I’m obsessed with that color.
What were your extracurricular activities as a student? Did you win any accolades or honors?
I was in the Boy Scouts, and I won a bunch of badges but I never got my orienteering badge, because I always got everybody lost. It stills haunts me to this day that I never got that one, but one day I will acquire that elusive badge!
How long have you been at your school and with OCPS?
Sixteen years as a teacher. Five in Puerto Rico, five in New Jersey and six at OCPS. This is my first year at Keene’s, which makes it even more exciting!