Señora Ciafre Closes Her Chapter at Charter

Isabella Cely-Garcia, Staff Writer

   On the second floor of the C building, a sunny voice rings out to greet passerby at the end of the hallway. Classroom C225, cheery, colorful, and decorated with Latin American art, belongs to the exultant Ilsend Ciafre, beloved Spanish teacher of over a decade here at Pembroke Pines Charter High School. A pillar of school spirit and a real Jaguar at heart, Ms.Ciafre has finally announced that her time at Charter has come to a close, preparing to retire after this school year. 

   While it’s hard to imagine the larger-than-life Ms.Ciafre as anything other than an educator, she hasn’t always been a teacher. “I was a database manager for a company, and I got tired of men getting the position that I wanted. I said, ‘I want to do something different. I want to change careers and do something that will fulfill [me] more than what I’m doing right now. And one of the things that I tried was teaching.’” After deciding to go into education in 2000, Ms. Ciafre began teaching a subject very different from the one students know her for now. “The first choice for me was computer science, because that was something that I was used to. But then, I wanted to be closer to my house. I used to teach at North Broward Prep in Coconut Creek and it was too far, and they were making changes. Pembroke Pines only had a position available for a Spanish teacher, so I spoke to Mr. Bayer and he said ‘Yeah, yeah you can work here but you have to have your certificate in Spanish’… So, I took the test and I passed it! So, I decided to start working as a Spanish teacher, after six years working as a computer science teacher.” 

   Arriving on the steps of the school in 2006, Ms. Ciafre found herself unaccustomed to the inner workings of a charter school. “I wasn’t used to the public school system, I was more used to private schools. But you know what? I liked it. It was hard but I had support. I remember the chair of the department was super nice to me. And Mr. Bayer, and everybody in administration were guiding me. There was a lady called Ms.Tabie, and she was in charge of new teachers, so she was very helpful.” Ms.Ciafre quickly gained her footing and discovered the true joy of  her profession: the students! She recalls all the fun she’s had over the years, particularly in a class for Spanish-Speakers she had one year. Every year, Mrs. Ciafre finds that she’s formed a closer bond with a handful of her students, adding their graduation pictures to the chock-full corkboard on the wall behind her desk. 

   As the years went on, Ms.Ciafre’s curriculum changed, however, her passion for the subject remained unwavering. “When I started teaching Spanish 3 and AICE, all my classes became more challenging, and for that reason were more memorable, because I had to get to know my students better.” As the material became more difficult, the fruits borne from her lessons became all the more rewarding. “Every time that I deliver…new knowledge, and when the student gets it, that sensation that they have— that ‘Ah ha!” moment, helps me love my teaching.”

   Another love that bloomed over the years, was the one for her colleagues and fellow teachers. 

“I love all my teachers, to tell you the truth. I love everybody. We have always been working along with the science department, I love my science department. Even though I don’t have anything to do with science, I get along with them very well.” While all the things that Ms. Ciafre loves about her career and her place here at Charter are important to her, nothing is more important than her well-being. 

   Ms.Ciafre has battled cancer before and come out victorious. However, she’s decided it’s time for her to take her last victory lap as a teacher and bow out of the game. “My health hasn’t been that great. A lot of people said to me, ‘You never know how much time you have left’. Even though teaching allows me to have my summer off, I wanna spend more time with my family. So they said, early retirement will work. And I decided right there and then, that I was gonna take my retirement and enjoy myself a little bit.” Yes, prioritizing her health is certainly one of the main reasons for her retirement, but that doesn’t mean that her search for adventure will end. Quite the opposite, actually! “I would like to explore something else. Like I changed from being a database manager, to teaching. I wanna have a third stage in my life. So I don’t know what I will end up doing!” For Ms. Ciafre the fun never ends, and she plans on making the most of her retirement. “In my retirement, number one, because I’m taking swimming lessons, I would like to do more swimming. But at the beach! What else? Oh! And visit my family in Europe, travel around.”

   While we’re sorry to see her off, Ms.Ciafre has a few parting words of advice for both students and teachers. For other educators looking to inspire their students, Ms. Ciafre has this to say: “No matter what happens, with a little help, they will go places.” And for young students starting out on the rest of their lives, Ciafre left a few words of wisdom. “Study! Ninth graders! Do the most you can, so when 12th grade comes, you don’t have to work that hard. And enjoy life. Life is too short.”