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Published on : Wednesday, October 26, 2016
The results are in; after a six-week search for an educator who is inspiring South Florida’s next generation to dream big, think differently and challenge the status quo, 23-year-old Brittany Affolter from the Miami-Dade region of Teach For America, has been selected as Godmother of Royal Caribbean International’s newest ship, Harmony of the Seas. With this honor, Affolter will join the ranks of renowned athletes, celebrities and royalty when she officially breaks a bottle to name the ship on Nov. 10, 2016. Royal Caribbean received nearly one thousand nominations from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, of which three Finalists were selected and voted on by the public to help choose a South Florida hometown hero in education.
“The Godmothers of our ships are remarkable individuals whose life lessons and achievements are rooted in courage, dedication and determination,” said Michael Bayley, President and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. “Brittany exemplifies these qualities and so much more. We were exceptionally impressed by the passion she has for empowering our youth to believe in a better world and brighter future. She is wise beyond her years, and we can only imagine the accomplishments that she will continue to achieve.”
“At Royal Caribbean, we view education as a crucial stepping stone for our young people,” said Richard D. Fain, Chairman & CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “We are very proud to be in a position to ‘pay it forward’ by celebrating the unsung heroes in our local communities who have dedicated their lives to this goal. Congratulations to Brittany and the nearly thousand other heroes who were nominated.”
Brittany Affolter pursued a career in education as a way to pay it forward and inspire children in the same way she had been during her early years. She grew up in a challenging home environment where she received little support and guidance, and was able to remove herself from that setting with the help of teachers and mentors. Instead Affolter found the encouragement and inspiration she sought from caring and devoted teachers who believed in her, helping her realize that college was within grasp and that a quality education was essential for a successful, fulfilling life. Ultimately, these teachers advanced her to where she is today.
Affolter has been working with Teach For America Miami-Dade since 2014, engaging classrooms in Title 1 schools across the county that meet the needs of at-risk and low-income students. In order to reach as many kids in Miami as possible for the greatest impact, she now trains teachers at 14 high-need schools in Miami-Dade, serving more than 500 students. In her spare time, she tutors students, is working to become a mentor for children in foster care, and is completing her masters in educational leadership.
“I am so honored to have been selected as Godmother to Harmony of the Seas and hope that my story can help give a voice to all the hard-working teachers that give so much of themselves to make a meaningful difference,” said Affolter. “It’s most important for me to help kids understand that no matter what is going on in their lives, they can reach the dreams they have for themselves. It’s amazing what you can achieve when you have the support and encouragement of teachers who go above and beyond.”
Royal Caribbean set out to find a hometown hero in education to honor the homecoming of Harmony of the Seas, which will make her U.S. debut in a few short weeks when she arrives into her new homeport of Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale, FL on November 5. The South Florida-based company sought an outstanding candidate that is making a positive impact on the community’s youth and received nearly 1,000 motivating and heartfelt nominations. After narrowing the selection to three standout finalists, and thanks in part to votes from South Florida residents, Affolter rose to the top as the educator most deserving to be named Godmother of the world’s largest cruise ship. Royal Caribbean will award a $25,000 grant to Teach For America Miami-Dade, funding education initiatives that further Affolter’s mission to inspire the local community’s youth.
“Leading a classroom to great results is no small feat,” said Samantha Hoare, executive director of Teach For America Miami-Dade. “We see a lot of invaluable qualities in the future leaders who join our corps, most importantly, a desire to have a real impact in the community and a deep belief in the potential of all kids. We saw the makings of a great teacher, mentor and coach in Brittany, and thrilled that she is being recognized for her commitment to expanding opportunities for Miami-Dade’s children through an excellent education.”