2023 Cindy Edelman Excellence in Education Fellows announced

Three individual teachers and a team of teachers set to embark on transformative projects


JACKSONVILLE — Several Duval County public school teachers have been selected for the Cindy Edelman Excellence in Education Fellowship for 2023 and will be embarking on trips and undertaking projects designed to connect lessons to students and improve student and community outcomes.

Jacksonville Heights Elementary School teacher Mariah Perryman plans to participate in a Haitian immersion program to learn the language and culture of the Haitian community to better serve Haitian students and their families. In her application, Perryman noted, “Immigrants from Haiti are the 5th largest source of immigrants coming to Jacksonville, FL. At my school, many of our ESOL [English for Speakers of Other Languages] students speak Spanish and a few speak Haitian Creole. We only have one teacher who speaks Spanish fluently and none who speak Haitian Creole to communicate with students and family.”

“This project will help me to meet this growing population of students at their levels of academic and English language proficiency because failure to do so not only hurts the students but also impacts the morale of school professionals,” she added.

River City Science Academy Innovation teacher Logan Davis plans to join Ecology Project International (EPI) in their specialized “living laboratory”' in the Galapagos Islands to create an in-depth science curriculum that encourages students to engage, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate.

In her application, Davis noted, “Part of this program also requires that I research and reach out to local/community-based conservancy programs. I plan to pursue this further and forge a relationship between these programs and my school. I envision our students getting to meet and interview these scientists and CEOs and maybe even attend a field trip so our students can be exposed to a real career in ecology and conservation.”

Arlene Cameron-Lloyd, a K-5 teacher at R.L. Brown Gifted and Talented Academy, plans to improve the school and community nutritional outcomes by developing local urban agricultural programs to increase student and community access to fresh produce. Cameron-Lloyd will travel to Tortola to discover ways in which Green VI’s research and work in agricultural science is advancing healthier communities. She intends to use what she learns to help her students and school increase the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables through the school gardens. In addition, she envisions selling their produce at the Riverside Arts Market for the community to enjoy. 

“I will learn how four school gardens are successfully implemented, explore an eco-park garden, and obtain firsthand knowledge at Good Moon Organic farms where ethnobotany practices are being preserved by Tortola’s small farms and individuals,” Cameron-Lloyd said in her application. “The activities of this project will improve my knowledge of agricultural sciences to support ongoing opportunities for myself and those I serve.”

A reading coach and four teachers from Pinedale Elementary School will use the fellowship opportunity to become reading experts and support the teaching of phonological awareness and phonics in kindergarten and first grade and teaching of phonics, vocabulary, and comprehension in second grade. The team, led by reading coach Clarisa Gonzalez, will participate in professional development at the Crane Center at the University of Ohio to research proven methods for teaching children to read.

In the application, Ms. Gonzalez said, “Students who struggle in school often do not like school because it can bring frustration, anxiety and even shame. I want all students to be successful in school and outside of school. Improving reading scores will allow our students to work in groups, lead groups, and share their learning with the students in their class as well as with others outside of the classroom.” 

These learning experiences are made possible by philanthropists Cindy and Dan Edelman, who established a permanent fund at The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida to provide professional development opportunities for K-12 teachers in public and charter schools in Duval County. Dan Edelman initiated this fellowship, which will exist in perpetuity, to honor his wife Cindy, an impassioned public education champion. The Cindy Edelman Excellence in Teaching Fellowship is intended to identify and reward excellence in teaching and support a program of professional development or research, providing up to $6,500 per teacher or $10,000 per teacher team. The Jacksonville Public Education Fund (JPEF) administers the fellowship in partnership with The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida.

Cindy Edelman, a former art history educator who has been deeply involved with JPEF and who chaired its Board of Directors in 2012 and 2013, personally visited the winners in their schools to make the announcement.

“When I was teaching AP Art History, my husband Dan saw how important professional development was to my growth as a teacher. As a result, several years later, he surprised me by creating this fellowship, which recognizes the need for public school teachers in Duval County to have opportunities for professional growth,” she said. “Having The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida and the Jacksonville Public Education Fund as partners has also added to the high quality of the experience.”

A selection committee comprised of the Edelman family, former teachers and community leaders select the Fellows each year. A key component of the Fellowship is the impact the experience will have on students, schools, and the wider community.

“As a committee, we’re looking for projects that are going to develop teachers’ understanding of subject areas, and also deepen student engagement and understanding,” said Mrs. Edelman. “Professional development should be transformative for teachers, students and the broader community.”

Teachers who would like to learn more about the eligibility criteria and consider applying for next year’s fellowships can visit jaxpef.org/edelman.

“JPEF is honored to be part of this incredible opportunity for public school teachers in Duval County to bring their leadership to the next level,” said JPEF President Rachael Tutwiler Fortune. “When we invest in teachers, we invest in children and a brighter future for Jacksonville.”

About the Jacksonville Public Education Fund

The Jacksonville Public Education Fund is an independent 501(c)(3) organization that is working to close the opportunity gap for low-income students and students of color in Duval County. We believe public schools in Duval County have made tremendous progress over the last ten years, but we cannot stop working until every student is prepared for success in college, career, and life. Because great people make great schools, we invest in developing and equipping school leaders, teacher leaders and parent leaders with best practices in school quality. For more information: www.jaxpef.org.

About The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida 

The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, Florida’s oldest and largest community foundation, works to stimulate philanthropy to build a better community. The Foundation helps donors invest their philanthropic gifts wisely, helps nonprofits serve the region effectively, and helps people come together to make the community a better place. Created in 1964, the Foundation has made more than $695 million in grants since its inception, and manages assets of more than $630 million at their peak in 2021. Learn more at jaxcf.org.




of public schools in Duval County earned an "A," "B," or "C" in 2021-2022.