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Fifteen teachers named semi-finalists for 2019 Florida Blue Duval County Teacher of the Year

Fifteen outstanding public school teachers were named semi-finalists for the 2019 Florida Blue Duval County Teacher of the Year today.

Area selection committees convened by JPEF selected the semifinalists from the 182 Teachers of the Year nominated by their schools to represent that school at the county level. The selection committees are made up of teachers as well as representatives from Duval Teachers United, the Duval County Parent-Teacher Association, Duval County Public Schools and the community. The volunteer committee members review the teachers’ applications and observe a select group of the teachers in their classrooms to make their selection for semi-finalist.

“Our community is incredibly fortunate to have these exceptional teachers educating our young people every day,” said Rachael Tutwiler Fortune, Interim President of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund. “I hope the EDDYs experience shows these teachers how much Jacksonville values them as professionals and public servants. I know our investment in them will yield great results for our students.”

Florida Blue has generously provided a $1,000 Professional Learning Scholarship for each semifinalist for the second year in a row. Semifinalists can use the Florida Blue Professional Learning Scholarship to pursue a professional learning experience of their choice.

About the Semi-Finalists

Michelle Chambers is an Instructional Coach at John E. Ford, which is a PreK – Grade 8 Montessori Magnet School. Ms. Chambers works with teachers and students in all content areas and says that her students inspire her and that she is an educator because of them.

Ashlyn Cogswell teaches third grade math and science at John Stockton Elementary school. Ms. Cogswell works to fulfill her mission by reaching each student where they are each and every day. She believes that fostering a community of trust is vital to her students' success.

Joshua Diaz teaches fifth grade math and science at Hogan-Spring Glen Elementary School. He says that his students “refuel” him and that they inspire and amaze him each and every day. He believes that building strong relationships is key to student and school success.

Rachel Duff teaches sixth, seventh, and eighth grade Developmental Language and English Language Arts with emergent bilingual students at Alfred I. DuPont Middle School. Previously, she taught abroad in Guyana for three months. She feels that she is the most important advocate for her students.

Steven Ingram teaches tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grade Advanced Placement History of Art and Eleventh Grade IB Theory of Knowledge at Stanton College Preparatory School. He believes by focusing upon intellectual curiosity, relevance and collaboration, a teacher and the student can work together to help to create a dynamic classroom.

Patricia Renee Kirkham teaches fourth grade Reading, Writing and Integrated Social Studies at Alimacani Elementary School. She feels that finding one’s purpose for teaching is essential, and says that her purpose is to give generously of her time and energy to each of her students.

Kimberly Kirton teaches fourth grade Reading and Writing at Kernan Trail Elementary School. Ms. Kirton has spent over 20 years as a classroom teacher. She is motivated by the small steps children take in the right direction and is inspired by watching children become confident learners.

Danisha Love teaches ninth and tenth grade Algebra 1 and Intensive Math at Raines High School. She believes that the positivity and confidence she pours into her students opens up a world of opportunity they might not otherwise believe is real and communicates to her students that she has high expectations for all of them because she wants the best for them.

Sarah Pasion teaches fourth grade math and science at Sadie Tillis Elementary School. Ms. Pasion is a proud educator who aims to make a contribution in shaping the world of tomorrow. She says that her most significant goal is to impact the lives of each and every student that she teaches.  

Alessandra Ramos teaches first grade at Merrill Road Elementary School. Ms. Ramos starts the day with her students in mind and plans ways to make a difference in each of their lives. She works to include social emotional learning into her curriculum and believes it increases her students’ coping skills in addressing life's challenges.

Patricia Raymer teaches fifth grade Reading/Writing/Social Studies at Mamie Agnes Jones Elementary School. Ms. Raymer believes that teaching holds immense power that should not be taken lightly, and she strives to be the best reading teacher that she can be for her students.

Miranda Romano teaches a sixth grade Gifted elective and eighth grade History at Mayport Coastal Science Middle School. Ms. Romanotries to find something to relate to each of her students with and works to make sure they know she sees them as individuals and provides support any way she can.

Rhonda Stampalia teaches a wide variety of ballet classes at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, where she has been teaching ballet for 29 years. Ms. Stampalia’s accomplishments are far and wide, and her students have performed at TEDx Jacksonville and with the Jacksonville Symphony.

Nakeisha Tinsley teaches sixth, seventh, and eighth grade Health and Physical Education at Matthew W. Gilbert Middle School. Ms. Tinsley believes in choosing equity over equality with her students and using a variety of instructional practices to address the different learning styles of each and every one of her students.

Brittany Turner teaches kindergarten at Lorretto Elementary School. Ms. Turner believes that everyone is capable of learning new things despite any challenges they may face, and that learning doesn't end when the bell rings at the end of the day - it can happen anywhere and at any time.

From the semifinalists, five finalists will be selected and announced in early December. From those five, one will be named 2019 Florida Blue Duval County Teacher of the Year at the 28th Annual EDDY Awards Gala on Friday, Feb. 15, 2019 at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront. 

Honoring the county’s most exceptional educators, the EDDY Awards have evolved over the last few years into a year-long initiative building a network of exemplary teachers who are leaders in the community and who work to improve our schools, accelerate student achievement and elevate the teaching profession.

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