ORLANDO, Fla. — Dozens of Central Florida educators will be celebrated and thanked during this year’s Florida Puerto Rican Parade in downtown Orlando, including Osceola County Assistant Superintendent Belinda Reyes.
Reyes first walked into an Osceola County school as a young fifth grader. She moved to Central Florida from Puerto Rico in 1984 and immediately took to the teachers.
“They let me have a voice,” Reyes said. “Even if was in broken English. Even if it was gestures.”
It was a struggle to start but she later soared, graduating from St. Cloud High School in 1992. She went to college and then returned to Osceola County Schools as an English teacher.
“I was able to master the language enough to turn around and teach it,” Reyes said.
She continued the career climb and was working as the executive director for multicultural curriculum when hundreds of students came to Osceola County after their lives in Puerto Rico were uprooted by Hurricane Maria.
“It was just such a blessing to be able to be here to say, ‘You know what, you’re going to make it. I’m here for you. I’m here for you and I am a testament to the dedication of the district,’” she said.
It’s her dedication to the students that’s putting her in the spotlight.
“She’s respectful. She’s kind. She’s a very good teacher,” a student said.
Reyes is being honored as the grand marshal of this year’s Florida Puerto Rican Parade.
“I represent every student that comes in that’s a language learner, that’s an emerging bilingual. I represent the fact that they too can learn, they can succeed, and they can lead,” Reyes said.
From the floats to the music, the event in downtown Orlando will embrace Puerto Rican culture.
Eyewitness News will bring you live coverage of the parade on WFTV Channel 9 on Saturday at 11 a.m.
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