Teachers exemplify the ideal of Rotary – “Service Above Self”
Education is one of the many pertinent issues Rotary International works to improve around the world.
In 1989, The Rotary Club of Deerwood learned of a need to better recognize and celebrate the work of public school teachers in Jacksonville when Rotarian John Kattman attended a Duval County School Board meeting where the Teacher of the Year was recognized.
The Teacher of the Year received a plaque and a gift certificate for dinner for two at a local fast-food restaurant, but Mr. Kattman knew there was more that could be done to better recognize Jacksonville’s teachers.
That following year, Deerwood Rotary presented the Teacher of the Year a check for $1,000.
A culmination of community outreach and rallying support from other Duval County Rotary Clubs led to the inaugural EDDY Awards — an event like no other that celebrates teachers — in 1991.
Rotary’s contribution has grown from $6,000 in 1992 to $25,000. Deerwood Rotary annually contributes the funds necessary to make up the difference between their $25,000 goal and the amount contributed by other Duval County Rotary Clubs.
Today, the EDDY Awards continues to be a community-driven event to celebrate Duval County's leading teachers. Coordinated by the Jacksonville Public Education Fund, it is a time-honored tradition that has grown into its new mission to elevate the role of Jacksonville's best teachers that begins with each school selecting their Teacher of the Year in September.
The school-level Teachers of the Year go on to be considered as semi-finalists for the countywide award, and they are invited to apply for JPEF’s Teacher Leadership Initiative — a professional learning community that connects teacher leaders with best practices in equity and school quality, to drive measurable improvements in their schools.
The finalists are chosen by a community selection committee that reviews their applications, conducts interviews, and watches footage of their instruction in the classroom or online.
One of the five finalists is announced as winner of Duval County Teacher of Year at the annual EDDY Awards.
“Our club is proud of its involvement in the EDDY Awards during the past 31 years,” said Mr. Kattman. “It has been heart-warming each year to receive the expressions of gratitude from the teachers who have been recognized at the EDDY Awards.”
We caught up with Mr. Kattman and his wife Linda Kattman at the annual Teacher of the Year Rotary Breakfast on Friday, May 13th to learn more about their historical support for Jacksonville’s teachers.
Tell us about Rotary's participation in the EDDY Awards
John Kattman: In 1989 the Board of Directors of the Rotary Club of Deerwood was made aware of the need to properly recognize the best teachers in Duval County; and our board decided that year to adopt the Duval County Teacher of the Year program as a Vocational Service program, to recognize and honor the best teachers in our public school system for serving in their profession, exemplifying the ideal of Rotary – “Service Above Self.”
Rotary’s participation in the EDDY Awards is a unique opportunity for the Rotary Clubs of Duval County to make a collective and significant contribution to recognizing the best of the best teachers.
Why are the EDDY Awards important for our community?
John Kattman: We know that teachers deserve and do not receive the recognition that they are due as professionals and as persons responsible for shaping the minds and lives of our children. This important event relays the message that Duval County appreciates the thousands of teachers in the county, that their profession is highly respected, that all are encouraged to become the best they can be, and that the selected finalists are the best of the best and become ambassadors of Duval County.
Why does public education matter to you personally?
John Kattman: Education in our country is a right, not a privilege. Every child in our country should have the opportunity to have the best education, and this opportunity should not depend on zip code. It is our responsibility to do everything within our means to provide the children in our community with the opportunity to have the best education possible. We can only accomplish this end if we employ and support and retain teachers who have that commitment.
Tell me about a teacher who made an impact on your life
Linda Kattman: A teacher is a profession so influential and important to our children, the future citizens of our great community and country.
I had an Algebra II teacher in high school in Ohio who was from the South. She was very passionate about teaching mathematics and would get excited teaching and illustrating our lessons on the blackboard. Her love of mathematics inspired and encouraged my interest in that subject, resulting in my pursuit of that in college and in applications throughout my life, including benefitting work with my husband’s law practice for many years.
About the EDDY Awards
The EDDYs are made possible by the generosity of our sponsors, including VyStar, our title sponsor. At the 31st Annual EDDYs, the EDDYs Live from Jacksonville TV special offered EDDY Awards sponsors unparalleled visibility for their support for teachers. Watch the 31st Annual Awards Here:
To learn how you can support teachers through an EDDYs sponsorship, please contact Courtney Weatherby-Hunter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 32nd Annual EDDY Awards will take place in January 2023. For more information and to learn how you can get involved in honoring Jacksonville’s teachers, please visit: https://www.jaxpef.org/the-eddy-awards
About the Jacksonville Public Education Fund
The Jacksonville Public Education Fund is an independent think-and-do tank that believes in the potential of all students. We work tirelessly to close the opportunity gap for low-income students and students of color. We convene educators, school system leaders and the community to pilot and help scale evidence-based solutions that advance school quality in Duval County. For more information: www.jaxpef.org.
Rotary International is a global network of 1.4 million neighbors, friends, leaders, and problem-solvers who see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change – across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves. For more information: https://www.rotary.org/en/about-rotary.