In the spotlight: Florida Blue Finalist Nakeisha Tinsley


Nakeisha Tinsley teaches sixth, seventh, and eighth grade health and physical education at Matthew W. Gilbert Middle School, where she has taught for 23 years, her entire teaching career. Mrs. Tinsley believes in choosing equity over equality with her students and using a variety of instructional practices to address the different learning styles of her students. Mrs. Tinsley believes that health is the most important subject in middle school, and she teaches essential life skills in her class. Mrs. Tinsley helps students learn to navigate their emotions and take responsibility for themselves. Mrs. Tinsley is inspired to give her students the “coach” she felt she needed when she was growing up.

A glimpse inside Coach Tinsley's Classroom


Praise from Principal Jamelle Wilcox Goodwin

"Over the past year, Mrs. Tinsley has demonstrated yet another strength, as she is the acting dean of climate and culture when our assigned dean is away from campus. In my opinion, she is the perfect model for professionalism, organization and completing tasks effectively. Her methods of restorative practices have been successful, especially among the female students. She is a highly dedicated professional who knows how to motivate her students to strive for academic excellence and moral values. She remains humble for every opportunity and experience afforded to her.”

If you are chosen as the 2019 Florida Blue Duval County Teacher of the Year, what would your message be?

“My primary message will be, ‘choose equity over equality.’ Sometimes the two are confused, but there's a huge difference. Equality means to provide equal amounts to each no matter what circumstances they may be facing. Equity means providing support based on the circumstances that are faced. When we choose equality, we assume everyone is on the same level and can perform accordingly. I understand that using equality may seem like the ‘fair and just’ method of handling situations but in actuality, many of our schools are hurting and not thriving because this method is used throughout our district. To close the achievement gap in Duval County, there must be an improvement in the manner in which we deal with low-performing schools. Understanding the differences in schools, but more specifically in student needs, will allow more funding, highly qualified teachers and resources to be provided in lower performing schools, which are the ones with greater needs. Once we decide to ‘choose equity over equality,’ the achievement gap between the higher performing schools and the lower performing schools will become closer. Teaching in a school where we need more funding, resources and high- ly qualified teachers to achieve success, I understand the importance of equity over equality. It's time to reevaluate the system in which the achievement gap is increasing instead of decreasing in our school district. The solution is to ‘choose equity over equality.’ Students who need more should be given more.”

Watch Coach Tinsley on the Channel 4 Morning Show






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