Naples teacher recognized with state Hispanic Heritage Award

St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School Spanish Teacher Fabiola Galarraga-Cole is one of only four teachers in the State of Florida to be honored with the 2023 Florida Hispanic Heritage Excellence in Education Award.

Cole has been at St. Elizabeth Seton in Naples since 2017 and teaches weekly Spanish classes to students in Grades Pre-Kindergarten-8. In addition to her teaching role, she organizes events like the Latin Zumba Fiesta and Student Talent Show, and serves as Yearbook and Spanish Club Advisor, while also directing the school’s musical productions.

“I was surprised and honored to be selected for this award!” Cole said. “It is such a privilege to represent St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School and my Hispanic heritage. Receiving this special award from the Governor of Florida and visiting the Governor’s mansion was an amazing and unforgettable experience for my family and myself. My heart is full of gratitude to God, the generous sponsors, and all those who nominated me.”

Seton Principal Maria Niebuhr said, “We are proud that our very own Senorita Cole was recognized as one of only four in the state of Florida for this award. She is so deserving as you will find her in and out of the classroom displaying excellence. Senorita Cole gives 100% and we are blessed to have her as part of our school family.”

The Hispanic Heritage Excellence in Education Award winners were selected from nominations sent in by principals, teachers, parents or guardians, and students.

The award was presented to Cole by Gov. Ron DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis during a reception at the Florida Governor’s Mansion on Oct. 10, 2023, with her family in attendance. In recognition for her achievement, she was also awarded $2,500 from Volunteer Florida.

Cole holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Spanish from John Carroll University and a Master of Education specializing in Latin America and International Studies. She is a distinguished member of Sigma Delta Pi, the National Spanish Honor Society.

With 14 years of experience in Catholic education, Cole firmly believes in the value of Catholic schools, particularly highlighting St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School for its nurturing, family-oriented environment that combines Catholic values and traditions with academic excellence, fostering students’ spiritual, intellectual, physical, and social growth.

This recognition reflects Cole’s commitment to education and her remarkable contributions to her students and the community.