Five teachers named as finalists for 2019 Duval County Teacher of the Year


JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Dec. 7, 2018 — Five outstanding public school teachers were named finalists for the 2019 Florida Blue Duval County Teacher of the Year today.

The finalists (listed in alphabetical order) are:

  • Joshua Diaz, Wells Fargo Finalist, Hogan-Spring Glen Elementary School. Mr. Diaz teaches fifth grade math and science at Hogan-Spring Glen Elementary School. He says that his students “refuel” him and that they inspire and amaze him each and every day. He believes that building strong relationships is key to student and school success. Watch our surprise announcement in Mr. Diaz's classroom on Facebook Live.

  • Rachel Duff, Deutsche Bank Finalist, Alfred I. duPont Middle School. Ms. Duff teaches sixth, seventh, and eighth grade Developmental Language and English Language Arts with emergent bilingual students at Alfred I. DuPont Middle School. Previously, she taught abroad in Guyana for three months. She feels that she is the most important advocate for her students. Watch the surprise announcement at duPont Middle on Facebook Live.

  • Danisha Love, VyStar Finalist, William M. Raines High School. Ms. Love teaches ninth and tenth grade Algebra 1 and Intensive Math at Raines High School. She believes that the positivity and confidence she pours into her students opens up a world of opportunity they might not otherwise believe is real and communicates to her students that she has high expectations for all of them because she wants the best for them. Watch the surprise announcement at Raines on Facebook Live.

  • Sarah Pasion, Rotary Finalist, Sadie T. Tillis Elementary School. Ms. Pasion teaches fourth grade math and science at Sadie Tillis Elementary School. Ms. Pasion is a proud educator who aims to make a contribution in shaping the world of tomorrow. She says that her most significant goal is to impact the lives of each and every student that she teaches. Watch the surprise announcement at Sadie Tillis Elementary on Facebook Live.

  • Nakeisha Tinsley, Florida Blue Finalist, Matthew W. Gilbert Middle School. Ms. Tinsley teaches sixth, seventh, and eighth grade Health and Physical Education at Matthew W. Gilbert Middle School. Ms. Tinsley believes in choosing equity over equality with her students and using a variety of instructional practices to address the different learning styles of each and every one of her students. Watch the surprise announcement at Gilbert Middle on Facebook Live.

“It has been a truly inspiring week surprising the top five finalists at their schools,” said Rachael Tutwiler Fortune, President of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund. “These teachers have supported their students to achieve remarkable learning through strong relationships and high expectations.”

“Each of these extraordinary educators are a shining example of the passion, dedication, scholarship and love of children that fuels Team Duval,” said Duval County Schools Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene, who made the surprise announcements at each teacher’s school throughout the week. “I’m so proud of them and so proud to work alongside of them and every one of our 8,000 amazing teachers in this district who do great work with our students every day!”

A final selection committee convened by Jacksonville Public Education Fund chose the top five finalists from 15 semi-finalists, drawn from 182 Teachers of the Year nominated by their schools. The final selection committee is made up of teachers, representatives from Duval Teachers United, the Duval County Parent-Teacher Association, Duval County Public Schools and the community. The volunteer committee members review the teachers’ applications and observes the teachers in their classrooms to make their selection for finalist.

From the five finalists, one will be named 2019 Florida Blue Duval County Teacher of the Year at the 28th Annual EDDY Awards Gala on Friday, Feb. 15, 2019 at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront.

Honoring the county’s most exceptional educators, the EDDY Awards have evolved over the last few years into a year-long initiative building a network of exemplary teachers who are leaders in the community and who work to improve our schools, accelerate student achievement and elevate the teaching profession.

You can learn more about the EDDY Awards and buy your tickets here.

About the Jacksonville Public Education Fund

The Jacksonville Public Education Fund is an independent nonprofit organization that works to spark innovation, relationships and resources to power the potential within and around our public schools to achieve excellent outcomes for all students. For more information, visit or call (904) 356-7757.



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Director of Marketing & Communications

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