Jacksonville Public Education Fund Congratulates the Fellows Selected for the Teacher Leadership Initiative

More than 80 percent of Teachers of the Year applied to participate.



JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Nov. 6, 2020 — The Jacksonville Public Education Fund is proud to announce the first cohort of fellows participating in the Teacher Leadership Initiative, a professional learning community that connects high-performing teachers with evidence-based solutions to drive measurable improvements in their schools. 

Through the Teacher Leadership Initiative, launching this year, JPEF is offering a select group of 48 Teachers of the Year an unparalleled learning opportunity with other leading teachers across the county. The fellows choose an area of study, then engage in cohorts with education partners and teacher leader coaches who were selected to facilitate learning through a rigorous application process. Over the year, they will work on action research projects in their schools to make a lasting impact on education equity and school quality. All 180 Teachers of the Year were invited to apply.

“This is a difficult year for teachers, so we were amazed to see such significant interest in this initiative,” said JPEF President Rachael Tutwiler Fortune. “More than 80 percent of Teachers of the Year opted to apply for this learning opportunity, which shows their commitment to their schools and their students even in this challenging time. I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart and congratulate them on their selection.”

JPEF is partnering with several leading education organizations to help deliver world-class professional learning and coaching to the participants, including the University of North Florida College of Education and Human Services, TNTP, and Hope Street, Inc. Each partner will lead learning in a track focused on a key best practice for high-quality schools. The four tracks are:

1) Preparing students for success in the globalized economy

2) Empowering teachers as mentors and coaches

3) Trauma-informed teaching and

4) Teaching for social justice.

JPEF developed the Teacher Leadership Initiative as part of our work to celebrate, elevate and empower Teachers of the Year through the EDDYs Experience, the predecessor to this initiative, and to address teacher retention in Duval County.  According to a report by the Education Commission of the States, teacher leadership has the potential to provide two key factors of teacher retention: job satisfaction and a greater voice in their working environment. 

“JPEF is considered a leader statewide in providing this type of robust learning and leadership opportunity for teachers,” said Mary Chance, CEO of the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations, which helps support this work through the School District Education Foundation Matching Grant Program. “They have graciously shared the model through our network and we hope others will follow their lead in this important work.” 

Teacher Leadership Initiative Coaches

Leslie White, former finalist for Duval County Teacher of the Year
Stephanie Brock, former Duval County Teacher of the Year
Madge Nanney, former semi-finalist for Duval County Teacher of the Year
Tabetha Cox, former finalist for Duval County Teacher of the Year
Caran Mullins, Cindy Edelman Excellence in Teaching Fellow
Michael Ham, former finalist for Duval County Teacher of the Year
Renee McNulty, former finalist for Duval County Teacher of the Year
Charmelita Royster, former semi-finalist for Duval County Teacher of the Year


Teacher Leadership Initiative Fellows


Sharmariton Ashley - Andrew Jackson

Kayla Santiago - Cedar Hills Elementary

Christine Bell - Chets Creek Elementary

Mathew Schemer - Julia Landon College Preparatory School

Jim Schmidt - Mandarin High

Margaret Rogero-Hastings - Mandarin Oaks Elementary

Jameea Jackson-Gaines - Richard Lewis Brown Gifted & Academically Talented Academy

Wendy Prince – Dinsmore Elementary

Tess Nettles - George Washington Carver Elementary School

Quinitera Sams - Jean Ribault High School

Shyrell Brown – Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School

Amy Elliott – Oceanway Elementary School

Maryjane Cassette - Sabal Palm Elementary

Stephanie Scannapieco - Sadie T. Tillis Elementary School

Richanda Fudge - The Bridge to Success Academy at West Jacksonville (High)

Nicole Richmond - Westside High School

Susan Seagraves - Baldwin Middle-Senior High School

Gladys Barrington – Biscayne Elementary

Anne Tomko – Brentwood Elementary School of the Arts

Bradley Winkler -Darnell Cookman School of the Medical Arts

Brad Lyda - Douglas Anderson School of the Arts

Leslie Jones – Duval Virtual Instruction Academy

Susan Burns – Fishweir Elementary School

Leslie Wilkinson - Garden City Elementary School

Ayana Wilkins - KIPP VOICE Academy

Maria McMahon - Mayport Coastal Sciences Elementary School

Leah Teuschel – San Jose Elementary

Kari O'Connor - San Jose Prep

Nicole Gilbert - Duncan Fletcher High School

Lori Cheanvechai - Jacksonville Beach Elementary School

April McRae - Jacksonville Heights Elementary School

Emma Johns - John Stockton Elementary School

Kimberly Parker - Lake Lucina Elementary School

Brandi Benga - Samuel Wolfson High School

Nadine Ebri - Southside Middle School

Rebecca Lamance - Terry Parker High School

Abby Solano - West Riverside Elementary

Tiffany Abbott - Frank H. Peterson Academies of Technology

Cherie Montoya - Kirby-Smith Middle School

Amanda   Hohne - Stanton College Preparatory School

Kenneth Ford - Carter G Woodson Elementary School

Lynette   Smiley-Belle - Duncan Fletcher Middle School

Hillary Lee - MYcroSchool Jacksonville Charter High School

Charlotte Wintz - James Weldon Johnson Middle School

Staci Pendry - John E. Ford K-8

Andrew   Grindle - Kernan Middle School

Hailey Ellis - Kings Trail Elementary School

Jill Fritz - Long Branch Elementary School

Katie Kiefaber - Matthew Gilbert Middle School

Avery Vaughn – Mt. Herman Exceptional Student Center

Shayla Baylock - William H Raines High

Kaylee Petik - First Coast High School

Samantha Kimmel - Florida Cyber Charter Academy


For more information about the Teacher Leadership Initiative, please contact Warren Buck at warren@jaxpef.org. For media inquiries, contact Stephanie Garry Garfunkel, Director of Marketing & Communications, at (352) 359-2393 or stephanie@jaxpef.org.


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.





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