Announcing the 2012 Duval County Teacher of the Year!
Darnell-Cookman Middle/High teacher Scott Sowell is 2012 Florida Blue Teacher of the Year
Jacksonville, FL - Dr. Scott Sowell was named the 2012 Florida Blue Duval County Teacher of the Year tonight at the 21st Annual EDDY Awards. Sowell, who teaches Advanced Placement Environmental Science and Forensic Science at Darnell-Cookman Middle/High School, was selected from five outstanding finalists.
Sowell, a University of North Florida graduate who earned a Ph.D. from Florida State University, has 12 years of teaching experience. With a deep appreciation for the impact his lessons have in the "here and now," Sowell works to excite, engage and empower his students to understand the world around them.
His students learn science by doing science. Instead of putting the lecture before the lab so that his students show him what he said was correct, Sowell places the experience before the lecture so that his students create their own learning by exploring real-life scientific situations. He develops a strong community of learners in his classroom, fostering a climate of collaboration, empathy and kindness where critical thinking and creative expression are valued.
In addition, Sowell is a novice-teacher mentor and professional development facilitator. His passion for his practice is evident inside the classroom as well as in the time he gives back to bettering his profession and the field of scientific inquiry.
The Teacher of the Year program is a joint venture of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund and the Schultz Center for Teaching and Leadership. The Florida Blue Duval County Teacher of the Year will then go on to compete for the state-wide title. For more information about Sowell and all 163 school-level teachers of the year, go to www.eddyawardsjax.org.
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.
"Tonight we truly saw how valuable these gifted professionals are to our students and our community," said Cindy Edelman, Chairwoman of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund Board of Directors. "Scott Sowell is a brilliant educator and we look forward to the experience and insight that he will bring to the table during his tenure as Teacher of the Year."
Like every Teacher of the Year, Sowell will join the Jacksonville Public Education Fund Board of Directors as an ex-officio member for the next year until the 2013 Teacher of the Year is named.
"Judging Duval County's Teacher of the Year restores my faith in the great American invention of public education for all students," said Deborah Gianoulis-Heald, President of the Schultz Center Board of Directors. "Great teachers never stop learning how to reach the students they genuinely love."
"On behalf of Duval County Public Schools, I applaud Scott on achieving this elite honor in being named the Duval County Teacher of the Year," said Duval County Public Schools' Superintendent Ed Pratt-Dannals. "His ability to connect with students is unmatched, and his dedication is proven through his students' successes."
The Teacher of the Year program has evolved over the last two years to become a full celebration of the teaching profession. Changes include the introduction of the Wells Fargo Excellence In Teaching Seminar Series, which will allow eight 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. And 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.
The other four finalists - as well as all 163 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:
Christy J. Constande, teacher at Chets Creek Elementary
Cindy Fitch, teacher at Oak Hill Elementary
Kate Houston, teacher at First Coast High School
Lauren Martin, teacher at Pinedale Elementary
The finalists were chosen from 15 semi-finalists after interviews with the District Selection Committee. Teachers of the year from 163 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.