On March 8, at a red-carpet event that has become a time-honored tradition, Duval County's 2012 Teacher of the Year will be announced from five finalists.
But did you know that the EDDY Awards are about so much more than one night? The annual event celebrating Duval County's leading teachers has a new mission to elevate the role of Jacksonville's best teachers.
In the last two years, the event, which is a joint venture between the Jacksonville Public Education Fund and the Schultz Center for Teaching and Leadership, has evolved beyond an awards ceremony to build a network of exemplary teachers who are leaders in the community and who work to improve our schools, student performance and the teaching profession.
Changes include the introduction of the Wells Fargo Excellence In Teaching Seminar Series, which will allow three outstanding Teachers of the Year to share best practices and demonstrate live classroom instruction. The online series is accessible to all 8,000 teachers in our county. The Teacher of the Year now holds a seat on the Jacksonville Public Education Fund board of directors. And in 2011, the event landed its first-ever title sponsor and was renamed the Florida Blue Duval County Teacher of the Year.
In 2011, nearly 20 Teachers of the Year participated in the two-day Mentoring Impact Symposium, which provides an opportunity for teachers with three or more years experience to serve as mentors for their colleagues.
Increased media exposure of the EDDYs and the teachers' stories in The Florida Times-Union, WJCT radio and Action News television will better inform the community of great educators in our city. And, in addition to the individual cash awards, Rotary Clubs of Duval County established five funds at the Jacksonville Public Education Fund for each of the finalists to use for a project at their school.
With every public school participating, there were 163 nominees for the 2012 Teacher of the Year. Earlier this month, 15 semi-finalists were chosen.
In addition, the 2010 and 2011 teachers of the year (Zachary Champagne and Youmone Berrien) have already made an amazing impact on our community and served as ambassadors for great teachers. Here at JPEF, we can't wait to find out what the 2012 Teacher of the Year has in store!
-- Deirdre Conner