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Msgr. Pace High celebrates 'Celita'

Veteran teacher retires; known for her cafecito, energy and devotion to students

Instagram post from Msgr. Edward Pace High School featuring Celia Cabrera's retirement party.

Photographer: Via Instagram @pacespartans

Instagram post from Msgr. Edward Pace High School featuring Celia Cabrera's retirement party.

MIAMI GARDENS | When Celia Cabrera announced her retirement from teaching this year, there were no doubts she would be honored in an epic way.

Better known as "Celita" in the school hallways, Cabrera has been a part of the family at Msgr. Edward Pace High School for 34 years. She started as a bus driver at Pace and worked her way up to be a teacher, author and department head, along the way earning a doctorate in education. (See longer story here.)

As the Foreign Language Department head, Cabrera taught Spanish to many Pace alumni. She quickly became everyone’s favorite with her enthusiastic attitude, humorous life stories and of course, her Cuban coffee.

“Celita is the strength you need on a bad day. Her words of encouragement along with her delicious cafecito always makes the day better,” said Melissa Sanchez, Pace activities director and a 2013 graduate.

Cabrera’s alumni base spans four decades and more than 4,000 students. She has taught generations of families, helped students with personal and housing problems, fed students when they didn’t have lunch and even funded students who were financially struggling.

Her retirement celebration was set to coincide with the Pace alumni prom. But the COVID-19 pandemic interfered and the prom was postponed. The Pace family, however, decided to send Cabrera off the way she deserved: surrounded by the people who love and appreciate her.

So on June 24, 2020, Pace faculty, staff and alumni, young and old, took part in a surprise caravan parade in front of her house. The celebration and outcome were legendary — just like her. (See the celebration on Instagram here.)

The Pace community knows that her legacy will endure for many more decades, because the impact she had on everyone was profound and bonded with love — plus a little bit of cafecito.

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