St. Lucie Public Schools Names the 2020-2021 Distinguished Minority Educator Award Finalists

On Wednesday, January 13th, Superintendent E. Wayne Gent accompanied by School Board Chairman Debbie Hawley, School Board Vice Chairman Dr. Donna Mills, Board Member Jennifer Richardson, Board Member Jack Kelly, Leslie Kristof from Keiser University and the Education Foundation, and Assistant to the Superintendent Dr. Kevin Perry, paid surprise visits to this year’s finalists for the Distinguished Minority Educator Award (DMEA). Mildred Brown, a Criminal Justice Teacher at Ft. Pierce Westwood Academy; Sophia Scott, a third-grade teacher at Allapattah Flats K8 School; and Erika Baculima, a Speech Language Pathologist at Mariposa Elementary School are the finalists who have the distinction of representing the School District at this year’s Night of the Stars event.

“The DMEA finalists represent the best of our talented and committed minority educators.   All of the nominees and the finalists have made a visible and positive difference in the lives of minority students and adults, inspiring and motivating them to make an impact on their school and the community,” said Superintendent E. Wayne Gent.

The goal of the Distinguished Minority Educator Award program in St. Lucie Public Schools is to recognize an outstanding minority educator who has made or is making a significant contribution to education and who can serve as a role model for other educators and young people who may choose education as a career.  One individual will be selected as St. Lucie Public Schools Distinguished Minority Educator Award recipient during the Night of the Stars event scheduled for February 6, 2021.


Mildred Brown, Fort Pierce Westwood Academy

Prior to becoming a teacher, Ms. Brown was the first black female SLC Sheriff’s Deputy in 1993 where she served until 2012.  She then went to Westwood to start the Criminal Justice Industry Certification program which has recently expanded to include the 911 Operator Program. Mrs. Brown is recognized as a “teacher leader” because she is an educator that has experience working with students who come from poverty.  Furthermore, she serves as a caring adult that taps into students’ strengths and supports their path to success.  She was recently appointed as the Career and Technical Education Department Chair overseeing 13 teachers.  Included in this role is monitoring the progress that all students across the school are making with their industry certifications. Mrs. Brown embodies the mission of St. Lucie Public Schools as she helps to ensure that all students graduate equipped with the skills, knowledge and desire to succeed.

Sophia Scott, Allapattah Flats

Sophia Scott is “one of a kind.”  She has a great sense of humor that pairs well with her competitive nature.  She is known around the school for engaging students and developing relationships with them and their families.  She has a reputation for embracing diversity and bringing out the talents of every student regardless of their background, ethnicity, discipline history or disability.  Ms. Scott is a strong teacher with great knowledge of the curriculum.  Her class usually wins school-wide challenges like Reading Counts, iReady and Unit Assessments.  Her students want to succeed because they are inspired by her positivity and hope that she displays every day.


Erika Baculima, Mariposa Elementary

Mrs. Baculima is a standout among her peers.  She is extremely committed to her job and displays a genuine concern for her students.  She works collaboratively with members of her ESE team and has a tremendous and positive impact on the teachers and the entire department. Her efforts have increased the growth and success of her students, including the ESOL population.  Many of the ESOL students at Mariposa receive Speech and Language services and being bilingual has resulted in exponential growth by her students. More Spanish speaking parents are involved as a result of her efforts because they know Mrs. Baculima will take the time to make them feel comfortable at the school.  No matter what the situation is, Mrs. Baculima always makes lemonade out of any lemons that come her way.