2016 Teacher of the Year Semi-Finalists

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Here's what others have to say about the semi-finalists:

Emma Araya

Arlington Heights Elementary, 4th Grade English Language Arts/Social Studies

"Mrs. Araya is a conscientious professional who is committed to student learning.  She has the ability to make every student feel good about themselves.  Students feel safe and respected in Mrs. Araya’s classroom.  She is excited about teaching and learning, and translates this excitement into her classroom."

-- Catherine Watkins, Teacher and Professional Development Facilitator, Arlington Heights Elementary


Faylene Blake

Greenland Pines Elementary, Literacy Coach

"Mrs. Blake is a master ELA Coach.  She brings years of knowledge and experience to everything that she does.  Her sweet smile and supportive approach to coaching endears her to the teachers and coaxes even the most hesitant teacher to seek out her help.  Mrs. Blake has helped hundreds, possibly thousands of ELA teachers to reach their fullest potential which in turn helps untold numbers of elementary students to reach their fullest potential as well."

-- Jacquelyn Sneddon, Principal, Greenland Pines Elementary


Douglas Brown

Duncan U. Fletcher High School, 12th Grade Standard, Honors and A.P. U.S. Government

"Doug’s teaching goes well beyond student motivation and engagement.  He is concerned not only with their academic achievement but their emotional well-being, and their global citizenship.  His teaching encourages students to look beyond prescribed curriculum while simultaneously paying heed to the valuable initiatives and programs without complaint.  The students not only comprehend the subject matter, but also realize that an investment in the world is necessary to make a change.  Doug’s energy and compassion are infectious and set a positive atmosphere in all his undertakings."

-- Tina M. Reed, Testing Coordinator, Fletcher High School


Dionne M. Clayton

Paxon School for Advanced Studies, High School Counselor

"Ms. Clayton is an unselfish, dedicated, hard-working, conscientious counselor.  The students and adults around her are uplifted as a result of her presence.  She is a student advocate that holds students accountable at the same time.  She is not easily describable but the impact she has on those around her is consistently positive.  As a counselor, Ms. Clayton leads with her heart and follows with her wisdom."

-- Royce Turner, Principal, Paxon School for Advanced Studies


Christopher Collinsworth

Lake Shore Middle School, Multi-Grade Communications and Social Skills (CSS)

"Mr. Collinsworth approaches teaching with the philosophy that all students can learn and therefore should be supported.  He believes that students can make certain choices on how their learning experience should evolve and lays the foundations for the students to make those informed decisions when applicable.  With this philosophy and love for academia, the students revere Mr. Collinsworth and are very, very receptive to his method of teaching."

-- Christopher E. Begley, Principal, Lake Shore Middle School


Stacy Cribb

Sallye B. Mathis Elementary, 5th Grade Math

"Stacy Cribb stands out as a teacher from all others in the field.  She embodies a highly motivated, highly reflective educator whose primary goal is the success of the whole child.  Her creativity inspires me as she takes lessons and makes meeting the standards rigorous and relevant for the children.  She manages to turn lessons into engaging and interesting explorations for the children.  Above it all, Ms. Cribb always puts the well-being of her students first."

-- Zayna Harb, Math Instructional Coach, Sallye B. Mathis Elementary


Sharmaine Grant

Chimney Lakes Elementary, 2nd Grade General Education Inclusion Class

"Mrs. Sharmaine Grant’s theme in her classroom is “Bees.”  The bee is one of the hardest working insects on the planet, which describes Mrs. Grant perfectly.  She plan for hours, seeks all avenues for resources to deliver her lessons, creates activities and assessments, and give her all teaching any less until she is comfortable knowing her “hive of students” are able to hold accountable discussions without her.  She is the Queen Bee of the class, which she calls a hive.  Her students are always bussing about with knowledge, but also with pride, which she instills in each one of them."

-- Ms. Monea Brantley, Teacher, Chimney Lakes Elementary 


Kay Park

Alimacani Elementary, 3rd Grade, All Subjects

"As a student in her class, Mrs. Park made learning fun.  She taught me not only how to read, but to also love reading.  She also taught us life lessons.  I can still hear her saying, “In order to live a happy life, you must work hard and always try your very best.”  She would dance with us in class and we all knew how much she loved each and every one of us.  She is the type of person who makes everyone feel special and important.  As a colleague, Mrs. Park mentored me when I was first hired at Alimacani.  She taught me everything she knew about teaching and about children.  She left a lasting impression on my life because I know just how much you can inspire kids to love learning by making them feel special."

-- Jenna Pugh, 1st Grade Teacher, Alicamani Elementary School


Erin Patterson

First Coast High School, 10th Grade English

"Ms. Patterson is an excellent model for all teachers, and is a creative and focused individual who gets results from her students.  Ms. Patterson understands the importance of relationship building with her colleagues and students.  I have found her willing to go the extra mile for parents, students, and coworkers on a daily basis.  Ms. Patterson also drives positive change in student engagement as a result of her ability to build positive change in her students.  I have know Ms. Patterson as a professional and find her to be a true educator in every sense of the word."

-- Alvin Brennan, Principal, First Coast High School


Jaime Plauche

Fishweir Elementary, 3rd Grade – Math Lead

"Mrs. Plauche has been very open to change, especially in this changing world of education.  She is always looking for a way to better her teaching and to learn from her colleagues.  She has been utilized as a mentor teacher to other teachers and carries herself as a model for what the teaching profession should be.  She provides a nurturing touch to her students and provides a mathematically minded classroom for her third graders.  Her smile is contagious and is a highly respected teacher throughout our building."

-- Marianne G. Lee, Principal, Sadie T. Tillis Elementary School


Carmen Polanco

Alfred I. duPont Middle School, 6th Grade Dual (ELL) Language Science & Math

"I have worked with Mrs. Polanco for the past three years and can honestly say that she personifies “teaching as a work of heart.”  She is a champion of the young people she serves and is committed to growing the teaching profession as evidenced by her commitment to the professional development needs of her colleagues.  Mrs. Polanco’s commitment doesn’t end at the schoolhouse doors or regular hours.  In addition to her other projects, she can often be found on campus before and after school providing translation services for our arents and students."

-- Marilyn M. Barnwell, Principal, Alfred I. duPont Middle School


Rovenia Shaw

Biscayne Elementary, Grades K – 5 Music

"As an experienced specialist, Mrs. Shaw is able to impart her knowledge and love of music to her students using various methods and resources.  Mrs. Shaw’s unique talent is her compassion for special students.  Whether it’s Biscayne’s special needs population or young girls who have lost their mothers, Mrs. Shaw will do all in her power to help these students.  She doesn’t hesitate to invite community members to come in and share their expertise with the students in the special activities.  Her hard work shows at the annual October Talent Show, the Christmas showcase, and the Spring Showcase that are open to parents and the school community.  This is typical behavior for Mrs. Shaw who never asks for the spotlight or the thanks!"

-- Judy Hitzing, Retired Teacher, Biscayne Elementary


Carie Skube

Brookview Elementary, 2nd Grade – All Subjects

"Mrs. Skube’s enthusiasm to increase student achievement for all children has helped to rank Brookview students at the top of our district.  Her specialty is finding new and innovative strategies to help children in her class, as well as the entire school.  She is a leadership representative who provides dynamic input and strategies for all children.  Mrs. Skube is a decorated teacher who has taken on every leadership role in our school.  She is a team player who strives to make others better.  She has a positive outlook and tries to make the best of all situations."

-- Shana Adams, Principal, Brookview Elementary


Darryl L. White II

Matthew W. Gilbert Middle School, 7th Grade – English Language Arts and Athletic Director

"Darryl is one of the most artistically talented teachers I have ever met.  He has an innate ability to stand in front of a classroom, or with a group of students, and engage them in real 21st century learning.  The students feel valued in his classroom and work relentlessly to contribute to their construction of knowledge for authentic work.  His classroom environment and culture is a joy to observe, while his students are conscious of his passion about their lives and learning experiences."

-- Jamelle W. Goodwin, Principal, Matthew W. Gilbert Middle School