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Five finalists announced for 2017 Florida Blue Duval County Teacher of the Year

Five exceptional public school educators were named finalists for the 2017 Florida Blue Duval County Teacher of the Year today.

The finalists were selected by a committee of educators, community members and business leaders from a preliminary round of semi-finalists. All five will be on stage at the 26th Annual EDDY Awards on Friday, February 24, where one will be named 2017 Florida Blue Duval County Teacher of the Year. You can see the videos and photos from today's prize patrol here.

The finalists are:

Allison Bear, J. Allen Axson Montessori School

Michael Bostic-Jones, William H. Raines High School

Latrece Brown, Andrew Robinson Elementary

Holly Hultgren, Frank H. Peterson Academies of Technology

Caitlyn Stetson, Reynolds Lane Elementary

The teachers were surprised in their classrooms with a prize patrol that included Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Nikolai P. Vitti, Jacksonville Public Education Fund President Trey Csar and DJ the Dog, the Duval County Public Schools mascot.

“It is an honor to spend the day with these amazing educators,” Csar said. “The Teacher of the Year program gives the community a glimpse into our city’s schools – what are teachers doing? How are they improving the lives of our children? And how can we, as a community, live up to our shared responsibility to our children and our city by coming together to support everything these educators do?”

Honoring the county’s most exceptional educators, the EDDY Awards, an initiative of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund, 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. Biographies of the semi-finalists, as well as a list of all school-level teachers of the year, are available at jaxpef.org.

“Teachers are without a doubt the backbone of this school district,” Dr. Nikolai Vitti, Duval County Public Schools superintendent, said. “Their dedication and perseverance is in many ways unmatched, yet, so few will ever receive public recognition. To be able to honor these five teachers before their students, and the entire community is not only humbling, but it also serves as a great reminder of the raw talent and passion our educators possess. I feel nothing but pride and gratitude for their tireless efforts to educate our children day in and day out, and would be honored to name any of these finalists as our next Teacher of the Year.”

The 2017 EDDY Awards will take place February 24 at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront, emceed by retired Jacksonville Jaguars Cornerback Rashean Mathis and a Duval County Public Schools student. Tickets to the EDDY Awards can be purchased at eddyawardsjax.org for $75 per person.

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About the Jacksonville Public Education Fund

The Jacksonville Public Education Fund is an independent nonprofit organization that works to inform and mobilize the community to advocate for universally high-quality public schools for all children. For more information, visit www.jaxpef.org or call (904) 356-7757.