2023 VyStar Duval County Teacher of the Year semifinalists announced


Jacksonville,Fla. – The Jacksonville Public Education Fund is proud to announce the 15 semi-finalists for the2023 VyStar Duval County Teacher of theYear. 

The teachers will go on to be considered as finalists for the county’s top teaching honor and all 15 will participate in JPEF’s Teacher Leadership Initiative, a professional learning community that connects teacher leaders with best practices in equity and school quality. JPEF is proud to continue its partnership with VyStar Credit Union as the title sponsor for the county’s top teaching honor.

JPEF will host the 32nd EDDYA wards on Friday, Feb. 10 at the Hyatt RegencyJacksonville Riverfront.

See the full list of semi-finalists below!

Julia Mayeshiba – Andrew Jackson High School

  • Four years teaching
  • Physics and algebra
  • She always goes the extra mile for her students, like staying after school late hours to make sure everyone gets the help they need for her class and to prepare for the end of year FSA. In addition to this, she also serves as the senior class sponsor, planning events like a college and career breakfast to help us explore our secondary career options. She continually puts her students before herself to make sure they are given every opportunity for success.”- Former student 

Amy Take – Alden Road

  • More than 25 years teaching experience
  • Exceptional student education
  • “Ms. Take’s approach to classroom instruction is lead by compassion while holding her students to a high standard for growth and learning. Her creative approach to tapping into the learning styles of individual students ensures her students show measurable growth each year.” – Principal

Lauren Smith – Baldwin Middle-Senior High School

  • Teacher for 7 years
  • Math and 8th grade class sponsor  
  • “While remaining current with the latest instructional strategies and technologies, Mrs. Smith can still reach a troubled or struggling student with simple, yet profound, motherly instincts and empathy coupled with complete professionalism. Likewise, she can accelerate and challenge her brightest of students because of professional development experiences and innovations she has pursued and mastered.” – Assistant Principal

Gloria-Grace Taylor – Beauclerc Elementary

  • 6 years of teaching experience
  • 5th grade science teacher
  • Ms. Taylor has a calling for her life and that calling is teaching, which she exquisitely balances with her role as a coach, mentor, friend, and colleague. She teaches her students to strive for excellence, to love learning, and to respect each other. Moreover, she teaches us all to give our best to students, to remember to smile, to have faith, and never forget that the storms of this profession can often bring sunshine and produce growth in the lives of our students.”- Principal

Denitra Deas-Jay – Englewood High School

  • 7 years of teaching experience
  • 2nd grade GEAR UP teacher
  • “Mrs. Jay’s impact is felt everywhere at EHS and beyond. You can find Ms. Jay having a one-on-one with a student during lunches, walking the halls observing her students and asking them to do the right thing, and decorating the hallways in various themes each month, because she wants our school to always feel like a home. You can find Ms. Jay directing her dance group and not only focusing on the choreography but teaching our young ladies how to act and dress the part with class and style.” - Principal

Katrina Faye Bias – Garden City Elementary

  • 15 years of teaching experience
  •  Varying Exceptionalities teacher, 3rd-5th grade
  • “She is a beacon of light on the craziest of school days! Always willing to help, listen and support her students and other staff around the garden. When it comes to policy and procedures, she strives to get it done right the first time. She is willing to find the answers by any means necessary, attending classes, doing research, making phone calls and sending emails. When she works with her students, she prepares lessons that hit the mark the first time, keeping them engaged and working towards their goals.” – Parent and colleague 

Ashley Watkins – J. Allen Axson Montessori

  • 9 years teaching
  • 1-3 grade inclusion teacher
  •  “In her classroom students take ownership of their learning. She plans opportunities for the students to work in diverse groups for team building. She has observed shy students become strong leaders in her classroom through the many educational opportunities she has planned for them.” - Principal

Cadijha Anderson-Robinson - James Weldon Johnson

  • 5 years of teaching experience
  • Math
  • “She is an amazing educator, and I am whole heartedly blessed to work with someone like her. I have single handedly witnessed her help my daughter and with her tireless and selfless work my daughter was able to pass her state exam and attend the high school of her choice. She has helped countless young men and young women make a positive change in their life because of the willingness to give of her time, positive attitude, and herself.” – Fellow teacher

Schnell Bernavil – KIPP Voice Academy

  • 6 years of teaching experience
  • 2nd grade
  • “Words can never express the gratitude and appreciation I have for this teacher. She is a great mentor and educator to her kids. Ms. Bernavil is very dedicated to her job and someone who goes above and beyond the expectations of a teacher. She is always well-organized and she has a very creative style of teaching.” – Parent of former student

Latoria Hawkins -Landmark Middle School

  • 3 years of teaching experience
  • 7th grade science teacher
  • “She is the teacher that uplifts her children, by staying late to call home with positive news to provide encouragement, not only to the student, but to the parent/guardian as well. Latoria is the teacher who provides a fresh, new start to every student, every day, because she is aware her children may be fighting a battle she does not know. She is the teacher who always advocates for her children. That every child, regardless of capability, race, and any other determining factor deserves the best educational experience available.” – Fellow teacher

Emma Dubisky – Madarin Oaks Elementary

  • 10 years teaching experience
  • Kindergarten
  •  “I can tell you that the students who have had Ms. Dubisky at the inception of their educational careers are going to change the world. These students exude confidence and compassion. They are able to problem solve and resolve conflict at a complex level. These students take accountability and ownership of their learning. They are imbued with a love for learning that only the most skilled educator can cultivate.” - Principal

Kristin Radzelovage -Enterprise Learning Academy

  • 14 years of teaching experience
  •  3rd grade math & science teacher and ESOL inclusion
  • “Ms. Radzelovage has created a culture whereby students are engaged and look forward to coming to school each day. Her level of rapport with students is always positive and she consistently demonstrates genuine care and concern for her students as individuals. In the many times I have visited her classroom, I walk away in awe of the learning culture that exists within the classroom and the high level of questioning and discussion in which she engages her students. It is evident that students are not afraid to take risks and she treats each student as if they were her own child.” - Principal

Andrew Lodge – San Mateo Elementary

  • 3 years of teaching experience
  • Music
  • “Andrew Lodge is truly committed to building lasting relationships with his students and parents. His love of music is evident as he worked to expose students to different genres of music and allowed them to use their creativity. He has devoted numerous hours to assisting students before and after school and challenges students to think outside of the box.” – Fellow teacher

Christa Fry – Thomas Jefferson Elementary

  • 14 years teaching experience
  •  3rd grade ELA teacher
  • “Christa’s enthusiasm is contagious! There have been many a day I have been passing her class and I have heard the enthusiasm in her voice as she reads a story. It just draws me out of my thoughts and into her class making me wish I could take a minute and sit in to participate myself. I truly believe that enthusiasm lights sparks in her students drawing them in as well.” – Parent and colleague

Dr. Argel Hipol – Westside High School

  • 12 years of teaching experience
  • Biology
  • “Dr. Hipol has a calling in his life, that calling is teaching. He teaches his students to strive for excellence, to love science, and to respect each other. He teaches his peers to give their best for their students, to wear a smile, to have faith, and to develop relationships with their students.” - Principal




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