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Kirby Smith Middle teacher Kifimbo Holloway-Parnell named 2015 Florida Blue Teacher of the Year

Kifimbo_Holloway-ParnellKifimbo Holloway-Parnell was named the 2015 Florida Blue Duval County Teacher of the Year tonight at the 24th Annual EDDY Awards. Holloway-Parnell, a language arts teacher at Kirby Smith Middle School, was selected from five outstanding finalists.

Holloway-Parnell, was recognized as an exemplary educator who is continuously exploring new ways to connect her students with new experiences and hands-on projects, helping them use their voices to seek answers about society's imprint in their lives. Her students conducted research at Kingsley Plantation, producing documentaries that led them to compete and defend their research in state-level competitions.

As the Florida Blue Duval County Teacher of the Year, Holloway-Parnell will go on to compete for the state-wide title.  

The Teacher of the Year program is a venture of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund and it is more than just one day of celebration. It includes the Wells Fargo Excellence In Teaching Seminar Series, which will make the best practices and live classroom demonstration of eight outstanding Teachers of the Year accessible to all teachers in Duval County. The Rotary Clubs of Duval County - the organization that founded the EDDY Awards tradition - provides individual cash awards and establishes five funds at the Jacksonville Public Education Fund for each of the finalists to use for a project at their school.

"The community is inspired by the exceptional educators honored tonight at the EDDY Awards," said Trey Csar, President of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund. "We look forward to all of the great things that teacher leaders throughout Duval County will do in the coming year."

Like every Teacher of the Year, Holloway-Parnell will join the Jacksonville Public Education Fund Board of Directors as an ex-officio member for the next year until the 2016 Teacher of the Year is named.

"Choosing a winner from these five finalists had to be a difficult task," said Dr. Nikolai P. Vitti, Superintendent of Duval County Public Schools. "Our goal of developing great educators and leaders is strengthened by the dedication and passion for educating our students these teachers have demonstrated. They are an inspiration to us all."

The other four finalists - as well as all school-level teachers of the year - were also honored at the EDDYs, which took place at the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts. The finalists were:

  • Michael Bostic-Jones, United States history teacher at William M. Raines High School
  • C. Suzanne Evans, language arts teacher at Fishweir Elementary
  • Sabrina Hall,mathematics teacher at Andrew Jackson High School
  • Jill Sullivan, science teacher at Mayport Coastal Sciences Middle School

The finalists were chosen from 15 semi-finalists after interviews with a selection committee composed of volunteer community members, educators and business leaders. Teachers of the year from 170 schools were nominated, and evaluated based on their nomination packet, which included information about their professional development, classroom practices and knowledge of current educational topics.  Bios, photos and more information about Holloway-Parnell and all the teachers of the year are available at www.eddyawardsjax.org.

Tonight's EDDY Awards also included a presentation of the Innovation in Education Award, presented by the Community First Cares Foundation, to recognize the best project posted to PowerUP Jax, the Jacksonville Public Education Fund's teacher innovation website. The winner was Gayle Fiser, a 12th grade biology teacher at Darnell-Cookman Middle/High School, recognized for her creative project that gives students the opportunity to DNA test sushi.

Congratulate Kifimbo, Gayle and all of the teachers of the year below by posting in the comments below!

-- Deirdre