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Forsyth Countys top teacher driven to help students
Miranda making a difference with Central 'family'
Marlo Miranda of Forsyth Central High was named Teacher of the Year for the school system during the Celebration for Excellence on Friday. - photo by Jim Dean

FORSYTH COUNTY — He says he’s only as good as his students, so his students must be the best.

Forsyth Central High School automotive technology teacher Marlo Miranda was recognized during the annual Celebration of Excellence banquet Friday as the 2015 Teacher of the Year in Forsyth County. The event also honored the district’s top Partners in Education, parent volunteers and mentors.

School officials and the community gathered at the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center to hail Miranda and the other finalists — Dawn James at Brookwood Elementary and Vickery Creek Middle’s Jennifer Davies.

“He’s why people should become a teacher,” said Central’s principal, Mitch Young. “Not to overplay it, but he really is saving lives, one kid at a time. For some of them who don’t see a use for school, he turns it around.”

Miranda, who has been at Central since 2004, said in his essay for the Teacher of the Year review committee that he went through school for years being told me would not succeed as a Hispanic student in a white student population in New York.

His essay was just one part of the process that began with a top teacher from every school, all of whom were honored at the banquet.

Also recognized was Forsyth County Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills of north Forsyth, who received this year’s Don Hendricks Partnership Award.

The honor is given annually in memory of the longtime Board of Education member and his dedication to the school system and community.

Mills received the award for her various volunteer efforts to schools, her formation of the Cumming-Forsyth County Drug Free Coalition and helping raise $45,000 to buy electronic devices for students without access.

Miranda shared how his mother worked to provide him the best educational opportunities, but he kept running into the same mentality from teachers who dismissed him before giving him a chance.

Except for one who “made me believe I could do something and be someone.”

That’s where he was introduced to the automotive industry and learned a trade that led to him owning his own business.

“Then one day I saw an ad for an automotive teacher. I found out that I qualified for the job and contemplated applying, but it would mean a huge cut in pay and living a much different life,” he wrote. “I then remembered Mr. Camire and what he meant to me; therefore, I quickly realized I had a chance to give back and pay it forward.”

Since entering the Central family, as he calls the campus on Tribble Gap Road, the students on his engine team have placed in national competitions.

The automotive program received national accreditation at the highest level possible. It’s the only one in the nation in a comprehensive high school to do so.

“It’s not just what he teaches us in school,” said Marcos Navarrete, a senior on the team, “it’s the work ethic he teaches. He gives us first-hand experience in what we’re doing to prepare us for jobs.”

Added senior and teammate Bradley Shuford, “He’s really inspirational. He just loves hanging around us. And if you don’t know something, he will teach it to you. We want him to teach us everything he knows.”

Miranda said he was excited to come to Central, but “none of that was even close to the excitement I got meeting the kids.”

“It’s really more like being in a family than going to work every day.”

He said when he got the job at Central he set a goal to build the best automotive program in the country.

“He has succeeded,” said Superintendent Jeff Bearden, “in doing just that.”