Brother, sister excited for first year at Key Largo

Brother, sister excited for first year at Key Largo - A man and a woman posing for a picture - Florida Keys

It’s that time of year when students hit the alarm clock, mosey on down to the kitchen for breakfast and hop out the door with backpacks on. Class is back in session as Monroe County schools opened their doors on Aug. 14.

With a new school year come new faces anxious and eager for a new teaching endeavor. At Key Largo School, Stephanie and Steven Leyva were busy the week prior preparing their classrooms in anticipation for the first day.

Stephanie, 26, and Steven, 23, are siblings who both enter their first year at Key Largo. The two who grew up in Miami taught at the same school in Lee County last year. It was Stephanie’s first full year as a teacher. Steven taught half a year.

The two admit that they never thought they’d be teaching in the same school together, and they never dreamed that it would be in the Keys. Stephanie is teaching kindergarten while Steven is teaching fourth grader.

“Our coworkers and everybody we’ve met so far in the Keys are very friendly,” Stephanie says. “It’s definitely exciting for us.”

Full name? Nickname? What’s your teacher name?
Stephanie Marie Leyva. I go by Steph generally. My kids call me Ms. Levya

Steven Charles Leyva. My kids call me Mr. Levya.

How you feeling as students get ready to fill your classroom?
Stephanie: I’m very excited. I just want to see them. I want to put faces to names.

Steven: I’m feeling very eager.

What are you looking forward to as a kindergarten teacher Stephanie and a fourth-grade teacher Steven?

Stephanie: I really like to do crafts, especially holiday crafts, with the students. In kindergarten, you also learn foundations for reading, and really getting into sounding words out and reading.

Steven: I’m excited to incorporate nature and the environment into class. I’m excited that we have a nature trail. I’m excited to put that into science and my teaching here. It plays a big part in the Keys.

How are you two enjoying it so far down here?
Stephanie: Everyone’s been really friendly and nice. We’ve been to two restaurants and the places were really good.

Steven: Everyone’s been nice and helpful.

Is there a spot here in the Keys you enjoy going to?
Stephanie: We do like to go parks. We’ve been to John Pennekamp State Park. We used to camp in the Key Largo campground a lot, and my dad had a boat, so he used to take us to spots.

Steven: John Pennekamp for me as well.

What’s something people don’t know about you two?
Stephanie: That we’re not twins. Teachers come and ask and we’re like no. With Steven, I know he wanted to be a cop.

Steven: Her degree is in biology, and she loves Disney.

What’s something you love about each other? And what’s something you like to pick each other on?
Stephanie: He likes to pick on me because I’m kind of messy.

Steven- I love how we bounce back on each other and we’re each other’s promoters and supporters.

What kind of school students were you back in the day?
Stephanie: Both of us were super nerdy. I never skipped school because I was way too afraid.
Steven: When people we’re playing sports, I was more inside reading.

You have the chance to go to dinner with anyone, who would it be?
Stephanie: Ed Sheeran
Steven: I would love to go with Gordon Ramsey. I love all the kitchen shows and things like that.

You’re a superhero swooping in to save the day… What superhero are you and what’s the situation you’re coming in to save?
Stephane: I’d be Cat Woman saving a cat out of a tree.
Steven: I think I would be Aquaman saving sharks.

What are your hobbies? Is there something you two like to do together?
Stephanie: We like to travel and we love Disney. We got to parks. Every year, we also go to a random state. We went to Kentucky this year. We also went to all New England states. We like to hike and stuff.

Steven: Looking for trails to walk the dogs.

Finish these sentences…

My parents would tell you that I like to…
Stephanie: save my money.

Steven: Cook. And I’m always trying out new recipes.

My favorite movie/TV show is…
Stephanie: the Office, Parks and Rec. and Game of Thrones.

Steven: Criminal Minds.

My favorite food is…
Stephanie: Picadillo. It’s something my mom makes. It’s ground beef Cuban style with rice and French fries.

Steven: Hibachi.

Working in the Keys is…
Stephanie: A vacation.

Steven: Hot.

Teaching at Key Largo School will be…
Stephanie: Amazing.

Steven: Awesome.

Jim McCarthy
Jim McCarthy is one of the many who escaped the snow and frigid temperatures in Western New York. A former crime & court reporter and city editor for two Western New York newspapers, Jim has been honing his craft since he graduated from St. Bonaventure University in 2014. In his 5-plus years in the Keys, Jim has enjoyed connecting with the community. Jim is past president of the Key Largo Sunset Rotary Club. When he's not working, he's busy chasing his son, Lucas, around the house and enjoying time with family.