Once a panther, always a panther

CSCS students go back to school to teach

Coral Springs Charter School provides its students with a safe environment to call home and a positive learning environment to find comfort in. As a result, many alumni return to the school as teachers. High School English teacher Adriana Martinez, Middle School Science teacher Heather Marchese, and Middle School Social Studies teacher AJ Miller all were once high-school students at Charter.

“Charter is familiar ground and I’ve created fond memories here and have teachers I loved,” said Martinez. “I wanted to be able to work with them.”

“I always came back just to visit,” said Marchese. “Even when I was in college, it felt like a home to me and it always felt like a safe place because of the relationships I built with the teachers I started subbing. One thing led to another, and I started to teach. Now I’ve been here for 9 years.”

“I was doing a job I didn’t like, so I decided to take the leap of faith when I found out there was an opening in Social Studies and took the job as a teacher,” said Miller. “I was initially working as a software salesman.”

Coral Springs Charter School was founded in 1999, and has come a long way since it was founded. “I was here when the school first opened in 1999 and [the school] has drastically changed. There was no Cambridge, no dances, no auditorium, and it was only 6-10th graders,” said Marchese. The school was originally a mall. In its opening years, the school shared space with stores that were waiting for their leases to expire.

“We had the Panther Square instead of the auditorium, where the seniors would eat lunch, but then they removed it to build the auditorium. I was here when the stores were still under contract and they had shoppers. Once they were up, they started building the 6th grade wing,” said Marchese.

“It is so different thinking about it, coming to this school as a student. I came before all the safety protocols after the shooting in 2018. The school established gates, implemented drills, and built a wall at the entrance. Being a class advisor now, it made me notice how when I was a student, the senior class couldn’t choose their color or theme. As time passed, creativity and involvement increased. School spirit has really changed,” said Martinez.

Some students are curious about what it would be like to work with our teachers now. Would it be awkward and weird or exciting and interesting? “The weirdest thing is having to stop calling them by their last name and Mr/Mrs,” said Martinez. “Though some teachers still treat me like I’m their student, which is unfair.”

“It was definitely weird at first, but at Charter, I hold myself to a standard that helps them treat me as a colleague instead of a student,” said Miller. “But, it’s definitely weird.”

“I watched Springer go from teacher to dean and then to principal. I think it’s good for [the students] to see my progress from being a young student to now being a teacher,” said Marchese.