TEACHER OF THE YEAR
Silvia Barbu was a high school teacher in Romania with a college degree in engineering, but that did not help when she moved to the U.S. with her family without knowing a word of English. She volunteered in her son’s kindergarten class to learn the language along with him. After a divorce, she worked wherever she could to make a living – as a waitress, cleaning houses, as a nursing assistant, “I did all the hard jobs.”
But what Silvia really wanted was to teach! She became a teacher assistant, and with two children and two jobs, she enrolled at Trinity Florida’s Elementary Education program. “I was never absent for a single day. Going to Trinity was like my vitamin, my energy…I got everything from there!”
Her hard work and determination paid off, and Silvia graduated as the valedictorian of her class at TIU-Florida.
“I was very happy. The program there filled all my needs – inside and out,” Silvia said. “When we prayed in class, I felt God there with me. Trinity is not just a name. It’s family. Being there opened my heart and soul to God.”
Silvia was 50 years old when she graduated in 2019 and became the lead kindergarten teacher at Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary in Hollywood, Florida, the same magnet school where she had been assisting. “And the next year, I was named ‘Teacher of the Year.’”
She glows when she talks about her class today. “I love teaching. You need to see my class – they’re reading already!” And she tears up when she talks about her time at Trinity Florida, saying, “That’s the place where I found my calling.”
“When I think of Silvia, I think of these words: dedication, overcomer, determined, stellar. To know her is to truly be inspired.” Nina Gonzalez, Academic Advisor, Trinity Florida.