INFLUENCER OF THE WEEK: Laura Saldarriaga, SunRidge Elementary

SunRidge Elementary's Laura Saldarriaga has been the secretary/bookkeeper since 2020.

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Position: Secretary/bookkeeper

Time at school: Since 2020

Laura Saldarriaga is the secretary/bookkeeper at SunRidge Elementary School. Her duties are many, but she is mainly in charge of payroll, hiring, budget, payments and supplies. She said she does whatever needs to be done and is available wherever support is needed, from lunch duty to dismissal to giving students a break or helping them have the best day they could have.

“Laura is the backbone of our school,” said Diana Greer, SRES principal. “She is involved in everything from her duties as secretary and bookkeeper to supporting students with reshaping of behaviors, supporting families who need translation during registration and parents conferences, supporting teachers with substitutes, supplies, and instrumental in helping coordinate all of our school events. We are so fortunate to have Laura as part of our school family.”

What brought you to your school?

Honestly, one of my high school friends got a job with OCPS and mentioned it to me. That night I went online and filled an application for school health assistant, and a week after, I was called and hired. This was right after the pandemic, and schools were just reopening their doors for students to come back face to face.

What do you love most about your school?

SunRidge is a second family to me. I made really great friends while working here and it’s a joy to come to work daily.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

I love working with the students. Even though I work in the front office, I feel like I make a difference every time I get to interact with any of our students.

What would you be if you weren’t in this profession?

I don’t see myself doing anything different than what I’m doing right now. It took me a long time to find my calling, but I finally feel that I’m doing what I’m meant to do.

Who influences you?

My mom has always been an influence and role model to me. She is an immigrant widow and, after losing my dad, had to start from scratch to give me and my sister the best chance we could have.

Who was your favorite teacher when you were in school? Why?

Ms. Monica, my third-grade English teacher. She was always kind and had an amazing teaching style.

What is your favorite children’s book and why?

“Spanish is my Superpower,” by Jennifer Jones. Having Spanish as my first language is like a superpower; I get to be two people in one. I get to interact with many cultures and learn from them, being able to communicate in their most comfortable language.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love the beach, going with my family or even alone with a good read.

If you could dine with any famous person, past or present, who would it be and why?

Michelle Obama. She is such an inspiration; seeing how she manages herself in different situations is amazing. She is such a strong influence in women of minority. She has inspired me so much.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

I would love to be able to talk to the people that are no longer in the world of the living — knowing what they feel, knowing if they are ok, knowing if they are able to see us and see how our life turned out after they left us.

If you could only listen to three bands or artists, who would they be and why?

It’s hard to pick only three. Music is such an amazing way of communication; you can say and feel so many things with a song. It’s hard to pick. I think music in itself is healing.

What was your go-to lunch and favorite snack as an elementary student?

My favorite thing to eat was croissant with strawberry jelly and Coke. It was a weird combination, and not the most nutritious, but it was sooo good.

What is your favorite holiday and why?

Definitely Christmas. Spending time with loved ones, the decorations, the music, the food. I can’t choose one to explain why it is my favorite.

Who was your best friend when you were in school and why? Are you still in touch?

Isabel Mercado. She welcomed me into her friend group as if I was always part of it. Yes, we are still in touch; she’s the one that got me to apply for a job with OCPS.

What were your extracurricular activities as a student? Did you win any accolades or honors?

When I was back in Colombia, which is where I spend most of my school years, I used to ride horses, play tennis, skate and spend a lot of time outside playing with my friends. It was all for fun, so I didn’t win anything.


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