MEET JOHANNA LÓPEZ
A working mother, committed teacher, and fearless leader!
Johanna López was born in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, to a war veteran and a stay-at-home mom. There, she earned her Bachelors of Arts in Hispanic Studies from the University of Puerto Rico and, later, a Master of Arts in Higher Education from the Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico.
In 1998, Johanna relocated to Orlando, where she first worked at a car wash and then at a fast-food restaurant. After volunteering and serving as a substitute teacher at Colonial High School, she became a full-time Spanish teacher in 1999. Her students were known for achieving perfect passing rates in the AP exams.
At Colonial High School, Johanna was an active participant in different extracurricular activities. She has served as both the girls' varsity volleyball coach and Hispanic Honor Society sponsor. Through both positions, she has encouraged her students to serve our community. In 2015, Johanna’s Hispanic Honor Society held a massive voter registration drive, where more than 500 students registered to vote. Johanna was also the sponsor of Latinos in Action, an organization that seeks to empower our youth.
When Johanna, a mother of four, experienced how difficult it was to navigate the public school system as a parent, she founded Familias Presentes: Estudiantes Excelentes, an online forum directed to making the parents aware of different educational issues and opportunities. As well, as a former member of the Orange County Classroom Teachers Association (CTA) and Maestros Puertorriqueños en Acción, she advocated for improving our public education.
Due to her leadership inside and outside of the classroom, Johanna has been recognized at the local, state, and national levels. In 2016, she became the first Latina to win the Teacher of the Year award from Orange County Public Schools. In that role, she was recognized as one of five recipients of the Governor’s Shine Award for Inspirational Teachers. At a national level, Johanna has been awarded the Queen Smith Award for Commitment to Urban Public Education and the Life Changer of the Year award.
Johanna was elected to represent District 2 on the Orange County School Board in 2018 after her campaign was fully run by current and former OCPS students. As a School Board Member, she championed the well-being and safety of students in the wake of the pandemic, worked to empower the most vulnerable students, fought to increase benefits and pay for teachers and other school staff, and successfully led the renaming of Stonewall Jackson Middle School to Roberto Clemente Middle School.
In 2022, Johanna was elected to represent District 43 in the Florida State House of Representatives.
In the legislature, Johanna successfully co-led bipartisan efforts to expand access to high school diplomas and educational opportunities for our students, voted to provide $711 Million to build affordable housing for our communities in-need, and introduced legislation to increase retirement benefits according to cost-of-living adjustments. Johanna has also fought hard against extremist laws that put our kids at risk of gun violence, criminalize immigrants, ban abortion care, penalize workers, and attack our LGBTQ youth.
Johanna also works as an outreach strategist for Provisions Construction and Development, Inc, a minority-owned construction firm based in Orlando.
Johanna has lived in our community for almost twenty-five years. During her free time, you can find her dancing salsa, teaching her four-year-old granddaughter Eliza how to read, or playing with her family dogs Moca and Mavi.
Orange County Public Schools Teacher of the Year
Awarded to an OCPS teacher who demonstrates a superior capacity to inspire a love of learning in students of all backgrounds and abilities.
Mujeres Destacadas en Educación
Recognized in La Prensa’s Prominent Latina Women list, which highlights the leadership of hardworking Latinas who have made the Central Florida and Latino communities better.
Life Changer of the Year
Sponsored by the National Life Group, this award “celebrates those who are making a significant difference in the lives of students by exemplifying excellence, positive influence, and leadership."
Governor’s Shine Award for Inspirational Teachers
Given to Florida teachers and administrators who “make significant contributions in the field of education."
Queen Smith Award for Commitment to Urban Public Education
Awarded by the Council of Great City Schools to a teacher who has made a significant contribution to education and to the community.
Magic of Leadership Award
Recognized by Macy’s as an outstanding teacher who prioritizes the formation of future leaders both inside and outside of the classroom.
Wings of Inspiration Award
Recognized by the Florida Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents for being an exceptional and innovative education leader.
Florida State Senate Proclamation for Contribution in Education
Acknowledged by then-Senator Darren Soto for outstanding contributions to the Central Florida community in the field of education.
Coqui de Oro in Education
Awarded by La Casa de Puerto Rico to an educational leader who has positively impacted the life Puerto Rican and Latino youth in Central Florida.
Educator of Distinction Award
Presented by the Coca-Cola Scholars foundation to a teacher who has had a tremendous impact on the intellectual and personal development of a Coca-Cola Scholar.
*names of organizations provided for biographical purposes only