Meet our five Teacher of the Year Finalists
C. Suzanne Evans
William M. Raines
11th Grade US History
BS, University of South Carolina
Teaching wasn't what Mr. Bostic-Jones had originally planned for his life, but when he looks back on his experiences, he realizes that they were all leading him in that direction and preparing him to be the best teacher that he could be.
His philosophy of teaching wasn't developed from an educational book or professional development training. As helpful as books and trainings have been to him, they have merely added to a philosophical foundation that was already intact. In fact, unbeknownst to him, his philosophy of teaching began to develop in his youth long before he knew he would end up in a classroom for a profession.
Being in foster care for several years had made Mr. Bostic-Jones not care anymore about anything. He took his frustrations out at school and often got into trouble. A pivotal turning point in his life came when a teacher reached out to him to see what was wrong rather than simply punishing him when he misbehaved. Over the next 8 months, he transformed from a young angry boy who blamed everyone for his circumstances to a determined boy who refused to let anything or anyone stop him from changing his circumstances and rising above them. His goal today is to provide the same opportunity to his students that was provided to him.
When approached at the last minute to teach AP World History, he knew his students would be able to handle the multiple choice portion of the exam, but would need extensive help with the writing portion. He implemented strategies that he learned in Common Core training and applied these to his AP courses and the results were impressive. Prior to this school year, no Raines student had ever scored above a 1 on the exam. Due to his strategy and hard work of his students, he had one student pass for the first time in school history and 5 students who came close to passing with a 2.
Mr. Bostic-Jones communicates on a constant basis with parents and builds and on-going relationship with both the parents of his classroom as well as the parents of the athletes he coaches in tennis and swimming. He thinks it is important for parents and teachers to work together toward the best interest of the students and show the students that there are lots of people rallied around them wanting them to succeed.
"Mr. Bostic-Jones taught me to appreciate life as I know it and embrace the word around me."
C. Suzanne Evans
3rd Grade Language Arts
BA, University of North Florida
Ms. Evans sees teaching as a privileged opportunity to inspire, encourage, assist and challenge members of our future society to experience life-long fascination with the power of knowledge. She feels one of the primary aims of education is encouraging and assisting students in developing a personal awareness of their effectiveness in society by utilizing their knowledge.
When planning her lessons, she considers where her students are and where "they", meaning her and them, need to go. She believes understanding the students' needs and the pacing of instruction leads students to make significant gains. Her students set personal and academic goals in third grade. She reviews the goals with her students over time, which encourages them to own their learning and make changes if needed.
Meeting with students in small groups is the highlight of Ms. Evan's day. This is her opportunity to work on skills and strategies but more importantly, connect with her students on a "deeper level"…understanding the importance of growing as a reader. She differentiates learning through interests, reading levels and strategies and skills. Her small group instruction, whether it is reading or writing, is the most effective strategy in her classroom. She takes this opportunity to challenge her students and guide them through a text with higher-order questions. Her students know how passionate she is about reading and that she always has their best interest. No task is too difficult for them. They all know the motto of her classroom….hard work + effort = success!
"I loved her style and teaching and it definitely made me flourish in the classroom. She will always be my favorite teacher and the best one I ever had."
Andrew Jackson High
9th - 12th Grade Mathematics
MA, University of Florida
BS, University of Phoenix
AA, Florida State College at Jacksonville
Ms. Hall believes her role as a teacher is to foster an environment where students develop a love for learning. In order to do this, she genuinely believes in every student's ability to succeed and is prepared to nurture the whole child. She takes the time to research and continuously look for ways to improve her educational practices. She shows excitement for learning through the energy she exudes when teaching. Her lessons are creative, rigorous and connect to real world experiences. She believes educators must be prepared to take on multiple roles or wear many hats, (i.e. substitute parent, a shoulder to lean on, or an ear to listen.) Most importantly, her role as a teacher is to embrace each day with optimism and enthusiasm as she forges forward to make a positive difference in the lives of students, parents, and other educators.
When planning her lessons, Ms. Hall uses a variety of data sources to drive instructional decisions. Once she introduces a concept, she monitors students' conceptual understanding through interim assessments. The results of these assessments have led her to differentiate and create a blended concept review, which has helped her students achieve significant growth on the District CGA assessment.
Ms. Hall has also become actively involved in Algebra Nation, an online resource created to support students taking the Algebra I End of Course Exam. She became involved with supporting the implementation of this initiative because of the vast number students failing this exam. She has recorded several Algebra Nation tutorials for students and educators throughout Florida to view.
"Sabrina is one of the best educators I've witnessed within our profession. Our job isn't easy by any stretch of the imagination, but Mrs. Hall does it effortlessly!"
Kirby Smith Middle
8th Grade Language Arts
MS, Florida A&M University
BA, North Carolina Central University
As an educator of various subjects, Ms. Holloway-Parnell sees her continuous role as a liaison between students and opportunities, helping them use their voices to seek answers about societies' imprint in their lives. She believes this begins by invigorating the lesson plan, which allows students to gain pragmatic skills by connecting curriculum standards with culture and living standards. In doing so, pupils are no longer trapped within the confines of textbook chapters but liberated to witness education with their own eyes.
Exploration in education has allowed her students to produce documentaries that led them to compete and defend their research on a state level competition twice at the National History Day Fair. They furthered their education by researching on sight at Kingsley Plantation, thus learning the difference between primary and secondary sources. These students, once complacent with assigned seating and homework, emerged from their comfort zones by using their voices to question, formulate opinions and demonstrate leadership within their school and community.
Ms. Holloway-Parnell's leadership as a professional educator employs her to develop students into legacies beyond the classroom. The support of administrators and parents make it all possible. The trophies of accomplishments are significant only because students now thrive beyond self -doubt and reckless procrastination. Their successful leadership inspires her to continue equipping the next generation by teaching current students to find their inner voice and daring them to make it heard in whatever challenges they face.
"Mrs. Parnell is an outstanding teacher. Her unique and fun attitude can make every class fun and interesting."
Mayport Coastal Sciences Middle
7th & 8th Grade Science
BA, University of North Florida
AA, Florida State College at Jacksonville
It is Ms. Sullivan's dream that every child in America benefits from a public education that will lead them to healthy and productive lives. She believes public educators have the responsibility to provide every student with an internationally competitive education that nurtures curiosity, instills a sound work ethic, and develops a strong moral character, regardless of the child's race, religion, gender or socio-economic status. Her role as a teacher is to work to develop the whole child, and she takes personal responsibility to assure her families that their child's time, potential, and talents are not wasted, but rather enhanced everyday, in every class, for every student.
She believes teachers need to diligently hold students accountable for the quality of their work. In her classroom, she measures student work on accuracy, not compliance, and provides specific constructive feedback to maximize individual student learning gains. Her student's and her own accountability for academic performance cannot be realistically separated. Student learning is dependent on the effectiveness of instructional practices and she measures both daily in the form of a quick poll at the end of each class. This gives her insight into which children understood the work and which need further support. She believes when students and she work in unison to achieve, they build a strong rapport, and create a culture of high expectations, in a low-threat environment.
Ms. Sullivan has pursued a certification in Agriculture Education. In doing so, she has established the only middle school FFA (Future Farmers of America) chapter in Duval County. She is also currently mentoring a new Career and Technology Ed. Teacher and hopes he starts a robotics student organization.
"It's clear to me that Ms. Sullivan puts the needs of her students first and that she is genuinely interested in their emotional wellbeing, in addition to their academic success."