MAST Academy is often a stepping stone in a student’s path towards a bigger and better future. However, it also provides teachers and administration the same opportunity.
In mid-December, beloved MAST alum, engineering teacher, and junior class sponsor Melissa Fernandez got word that she had been chosen to become Miami Dade County’s new Instructional Supervisor of Technology Education and Industrial Education.
“I’ll be overseeing all of the [technology and industrial education] programs as well as managing the grants for those programs,” Fernandez said.
The promotion, however, is bittersweet for Fernandez, who has been working at MAST since January of 2001.
“I am excited. I think that this job is going to present a lot of new challenges, which I look forward to, but if I said that it wasn’t bittersweet, I would be lying,” Fernandez said.
Fernandez first came to MAST Academy long before she ever worked here. She arrived at MAST in the summer between sixth and seventh grade for a summer program for middle school students and fell in love with MAST. This experience inspired her to apply to MAST, and Fernandez ended up attending high school here.
“I’ve spent most of my life [at MAST], and actually all of my adult life here. I’m going to miss the students terribly. I’m going to miss my robotics kids [and] my juniors,” Fernandez said.
Fernandez leaves behind a very successful robotics team, a program she built from the ground up. Though Fernandez was a part of the robotics team when she was a student, the team was nonexistent by the time she returned as a staff member eight years ago.
Since then, the robotics team has exploded, becoming a community and sanctuary for those involved.
The team looks to continue their success despite the departure of their beloved teacher, and only hope to make her proud.
“She is a great teacher and robotics coach. I am a bit sad to see her go, but I’m also extremely happy to see her progressing in her career,” President of Mecha Makos robotics Franco Baudino said.
However, though she is departing, Fernandez does not intend to disappear. She plans on attending as many MAST events as she can. Whether in school or out of it, she has promised her students that she will be there to watch them as they continue to make waves in and out of school.
Though this is a loss for MAST Academy, it is also a gain for all Miami-Dade County engineering programs.
“We need people like Ms. Fernandez to help engineering programs all over the country grow and progress” Baudino said.