By Daisy Gonzalez-Diego
Oliver Diez, a music teacher at Palmetto Elementary School, was named the 2020 Francisco R. Walker Miami-Dade County Teacher of the Year at a ceremony held this evening at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Miami Airport & Convention Center.
During his nearly 20-year tenure with Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS), the youthful-looking Diez often has been mistaken for a high school student. On an amusing note, he is sharing the stage with Christopher Fisk, who was Diez’ student 13 years ago and happens to be this year’s Rookie Teacher of the Year Runner-Up. Fisk is a Social Studies and Language Arts teacher at Miami Northwestern Senior High.
Due to Diez’ creative and innovative approach, his students have been able to perform and play musical instruments as early as first grade. He does not allow age to hold a musician back from pursuing and unlocking their limitless potential. Diez’ contribution to his community goes beyond the walls of his classroom. His students radiate throughout the community performing in multiple ensembles under his tutelage at local, state and national venues. This year in March, his chorus and band will be performing at Carnegie Hall in New York.
The runner-up is Ray Parris from Hialeah-Miami Lakes Senior High. Also recognized at the event were top rookie teachers. Laura Haim, a teacher at Pinecrest Elementary School, was named Rookie Teacher of the Year. The aforementioned Fisk is the runner-up.
The signature sponsors are United Way of Miami-Dade, Kendall Toyota, Office Depot, United Healthcare, South Florida Educational Federal Credit Union and Univision 23/UniMas 69. The supporting sponsors are DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Biscayne Bay Miami/The Bentley and Fox-Mar Photography. This event is in partnership with United Teachers of Dade (UTD), Miami-Dade County Council of PTAs/PTSAs and the Dade Association of School Administrators (DASA). Kendall Toyota presented the winner with the keys to a new car.