MDEC Leaders and Governance

President: Brent Urbanik

Brent graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a bachelor’s of science degree in Human Development. His first career was in the Mental Health field as a Case Manager for Family Counseling Services of Greater Miami. He then moved on to work for PsychSolutions as a group counselor at a level 6 DJJ facility. Brent then became certified in social studies and moved onto teaching. He started his career at Richmond Heights Middle school, spent the bulk of his career at Felix Varela Senior High, and is now at TERRA Environmental Research institute. He has been a district presenter for both the AP Teachers and AP Student Curriculum Reviews for AP Psychology. With a strong family background in Unionism, Brent became certified as an AFL-CIO union organizer. During his time in the mental health field, he tried organizing therapists. When he later moved into teaching, he pledged his support to TRAC (Teachers Rights Advocacy Coalition), the group trying to replace UTD in the aftermath of the Tornillo scandal. An avid outdoorsman, he has complete wilderness survival training and is a licensed by the coast guard as a Captain.

Vice President: Renee Zayas

Renee Zayas, MS has been an ESE teacher at Miami Springs Senior High School for the last 19 years. She earned an AA in Medical Science from Miami Dade Community College, a BS in Psychology from the University of Florida, and a Master’s Degree in Teaching Exceptional Education from Barry University. Renee is currently teaching ESE English for grades 9 through 12 and US History. She also serves as a mentor to incoming teachers, assists in the ESE documentation process, and completes individual educational plans for students. Renee also oversees the IND population FSAA testing program. Being nominated for Teacher of the Year throughout her 34-year career, Renee believes the secret to student success is helping them feel comfortable in a structured environment that allows them to grow and flourish. Renee feels honored to teach, make a difference in the lives of our future leaders, and treat them with respect and kindness so they can do the same for others.

Secretary: Grace Texidor Olmedo

Grace graduated from Florida International University with an undergraduate and master’s degree in special education. Grace is certified in Special Education K-12, Elementary Education K-5 and is ESOL endorsed. She began her career in West Homestead Elementary School teaching in a Self-Contained Classroom setting for students with Learning Disabilities, a Resource room setting, and a Co-Teacher setting assisting students with Learning disabilities in the General Education in the core subjects of reading and math. Her 27-year career at M-DCPS has included teaching Kindergarten to Middle school, a Program Specialist at Claude Pepper Elementary school, a Staffing Specialist for South Region, and presently a Teacher of the Gifted at William Lehman Elementary School.

Treasurer: Victoria Maria Gutierrez

Victoria MariaGutierrez is a dedicated and experienced educator with a strong foundation in psychology and a rich history of service within the Miami-Dade County Public Schools system. Victoria graduated from Florida International University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, laying the intellectual groundwork for her future in education.  Her understanding of the human mind and behavior has greatly informed her approach to teaching and connecting with students. Victoria began her journey with Miami-Dade County Public Schools in1994 as a Principal’s Secretary, where she first delved into the world of education administration, learning valuable organizational and communication skills. Her commitment to inclusivity and education led her to work as a substitute teacher for adults with disabilities, further fostering her understanding of diverse learning needs. Victoria’s passion for education extended to evening classes, where she helped adults pursuing education outside of regular hours achieve their academic goals. With a deep appreciation for early education, Victoria transitioned to teaching in elementary schools, helping students in grades 1-6 develop a strong foundation for their educational journeys. Her expertise in mathematics led her to become a middle school math teacher for students in grades 6-9, empowering them with the necessary math skills to succeed in their academic pursuits. Victoria is a highly qualified and certified educator, holding certifications in Elementary Education (Grades 1-6), Middle School Mathematics (Grades 6-9),and ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) endorsement. These qualifications reflect her commitment to providing a well-rounded and inclusive education for all students. Victoria Maria Gutierrez’s extensive experience in various educational roles, combined with her strong educational background in psychology, makes her an asset to the Miami-Dade County Public Schools community. Her dedication to empowering students and promoting learning excellence has positively impacted the lives of many throughout her longstanding career in education.

Spokesperson and historian: Shawn Beightol

Shawn Beightol, M.S.Ed., past winner of Beginning Teacher of the Year (Wm Turner Tech HS),Teacher of the Year (John A Ferguson HS), National STEM Teacher of the Year(SECME), National Teacher of the Year (NRTW), and National Teacher of the Year(McGraw-Hill/COUNCIL OF THE GREAT CITY SCHOOLS) emerged from a challenging upbringing in Central Florida, raised by a single mother in poverty. Recognizing the vital role of free public education, after a church youth director intervened in his educational career, resulting in a college scholarship, which solidified his belief in the transformative power of effort and intervention in child development. With a background in Theology and Youth Ministries, followed by years in youth work and juvenile counseling, Shawn transitioned to a 30-year career teaching chemistry in Miami's public schools after graduate work in Chemistry and Chemistry Education at FIU. His impactful journey includes a decade of mentoring students in chemical research, active involvement in the union, and legal battles to safeguard public employees' rights. Now, finishing his third decade of teaching, Shawn explores innovative approaches to education, focusing on integrating high-tech personal electronics to enhance student engagement and reduce educational budgetary overhead. His dedication to education is rooted in the collaborative relationship between parents and professionally compensated educators, embodying a philosophy that defines his teaching ethos.

Constitution and Bylaws

MDEC is governed by its constitution and bylaws, which are available here