Meet the five finalists for Teacher of the Year

Today the finalists for the 2012 Florida Blue Duval County Teacher of the Year were announced. In what has become a tradition, the names were kept a secret until the Superintendent surprises them in their classrooms with the news!
We would like introduce you to the five finalists here, and show you a few pictures from the morning they received the news. All of the information about the teachers is from their nomination packet from their individual school. They were selected from the 163 schools that nominated teachers this year - all outstanding.

They will all be present on March 8, 2012 for the EDDY Awards, when one of them will be named the 2012 Florida Blue Duval County Teacher of the Year!

That person will then go on to compete at the state level, so stay tuned! In the meantime, you can find out more at

-- Deirdre Conner
Meet the five finalists for Teacher of the Year Scott Sowell
Scott Sowell
Darnell-Cookman Middle/High School Advance Placement Environmental Sciences Forensic Science
"To walk into Dr. Sowell's classroom is to see student ownership in action. The students know their expectations and exceed them. They know they are leaders of their collective learning and assume the responsibility of supporting one another. They learn. They care. They know they are learners with a purpose, because of the teacher who creates the environment, Dr. Sowell."
- Mark E. Ertel, Principal, Darnell-Cookman Middle/High School

Meet the five finalists for Teacher of the Year Martin

Lauren Martin
Pinedale Elementary School 4th Grade Reading and Writing
"Without question, Ms. Martin is one of the most effective and driven teachers with whom I have had the opportunity to work. She is exceptionally goal-driven and has a vision that every single one of her students will achieve at the levels that their higher-income peers consistently achieve. It is safe to say that Lauren's students' performance is one of the major contributing factors on Pinedale's move from an "F" school to an "A" school in only one short year." 
- Bailey Cato, Site Manager, Teacher for America
Meet the five finalists for Teacher of the Year Kate
Kate Houston
First Coast High School English/Language Arts
"Kate displays such a passion for our profession. She believes in the transformative power of schooling when it considers the whole child and when it is done well. It is because of this belief that Kate has shaped a model PLC, co-sponsors a new service club, has spearheaded school and community efforts to beautify our campus, has tackled the recycling program at our school, has created the Poetry Café where our students can display their talents, and is developing our creative writing club. It is a joy to work with a young teacher who maintains a 'teachable spirit' even though she is already excellent."
- Marjorie M. Nolan, 2009 Duval County Teacher of the Year, First Coast High School
Meet the five finalists for Teacher of the Year Christy
Christy Constande
Chets Creek Elementary Grades 1st - 5th Inclusion Teacher
"I had the pleasure of having Mrs. Constande as my third and fourth grade teacher when I attended Chets Creek. Before her class, I hadn't really taken a liking to certain subjects in school yet. After having her as a teacher, I knew that I wanted to write in the future. I was drawn to what she taught me and how she showed me step by step to become a strong and confident writer. Her teaching not only positively impacted my grades in school, but also helped me to determine what I wanted to study when I graduated and moved on to college."
- Kyle E. Linkous, Former Student, Freshman at Florida Gulf Coast University
Meet the five finalists for Teacher of the Year Cindy
Cindy Fitch
Oak Hill Elementary STAR 2nd & 3rd Grade
"First and foremost, Ms. Fitch is a mentor. Experienced and novice teachers, as well as para- professionals, regularly seek her advice and she enthusiastically assists all. Everyone who comes into contact with Ms. Fitch walks away with a greater commitment to, and enthusiasm, for helping students. I have had the great privilege of knowing her for 11 years and I have watched her live out her commitment to excellence in teaching. Owing to her inspiration and example, I became a teacher five years ago. She is, and will always be, my mentor - I am yet another student that Ms. Fitch has given roots and wings."
- Latane N. Brown, Former Parent, Oak Hill Elementary




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