Luis Espinosa is a science and STEM education powerhouse who, as lead teacher and department chair, sets Apollo Middle School students on a path for 21st century success. Known as a trailblazer, Espinosa heads Florida’s first middle school industry certification program known as LEEO - Linking Education and Employment Opportunities, a middle school industry certification program and the first in the state. Specialized science labs incorporate technologies and strategies that bridge the gap between science, technology and the arts.
Colleagues point to Espinosa’s ability to inspire both peers and students to think outside the box—a much bandied-about phrase, but Espinosa is an example of what it truly means. He holds science enrichment sessions in the morning before school and draws students into this field of study who didn’t think they’d ever be interested in knowing more. Because of his unique ability to engage young teens, other educators turn to Espinosa to learn valuable best practices in teaching.
Adept at reaching students of all abilities and interests, Espinosa involves parents in the learning equation. The Family Science Night he organizes attracts over 300 families. Not only have the school’s FCAT scores increased over the years, but Espinosa’s work has helped lead the department to record increases for the 8th grade. Over the last four years, school officials report that formerly “C” students have consistently advanced to become “A” students under Espinoza’s guidance. What’s more, his support for reading and writing across the science curriculum has been credited with raising student vocabulary scores.
In 2010, Apollo Middle School was designated as an Aeronautics STEM Magnet program and was tasked to create a rigorous curriculum to support the effort. In addition to serving as the point person for the STEM curriculum team, Espinoza enlisted the help of other top-notch teachers and university professors from Florida Atlantic University to help develop an inquiry-based science curriculum. Former students credit their success in high school AP science and honors courses to the foundation Espinoza built during their middle school experience.
Beyond the classroom, Espinosa envisioned an outdoor learning center to honor two deceased members of the school's community. The Daniel Torres and Greg Ashley STEM in the Gardens Learning Center is made up of gardens that produce crops, while a $95,000 grant secured by Espinosa added an indoor botany learning lab equipped with computers and microscopes, as well as a chess area and butterfly garden with a solar-powered fountain. Inside or out of the classroom, Luis Espinosa is a catalyst for growth in Broward County