10 Years of Powering Potential: Catching up with Apryl Shackelford, 2013 Duval County Teacher of the Year
Apryl Shackelford was named Duval County Teacher of the Year in 2013 for her work as a sixth-grade reading teacher at Northwestern Middle School. After being named Teacher of the Year, she served as the first Dean of Students at the Young Men's and Women's Leadership Academy at Eugene J. Butler in Duval County Public Schools. Today, she's in a new leadership position with KIPP: Miami Sunrise Academy: grade level and culture chair, with the trajectory of becoming an assistant principal for the 2020-2021 school year.
How has your career evolved since you were named Duval County Teacher of the Year?
Since being named Duval County Teacher of the Year, my educational career path has opened many leadership opportunities for me. I served as the first Young Men's and Women's Leadership Academy at Eugene J. Butler, which led to a very successful year for the school. I am currently serving in a lead teaching position while being coached for an Assistant Principal position within the next year.
What was your most memorable moment from your year as Duval County Teacher of the Year?
My most memorable moments was meeting so many amazing educators within the district and seeing the light shine in my students' eyes, because that year was truly about them.
What opportunities were you afforded by JPEF during your year as Teacher of the Year?
I truly believe JPEF is the reason why I was a popular teacher of the year. JPEF made sure I shined the entire year, and thereafter. They invited me to countless educational forums and speaking engagements. In many of them I was the headliners, in other I was a guest speaker. JPEF allow me and other teachers of the year to the opportunity to spearhead a Teacher Roundtable for other teachers within the district. Some of our BEST work came out of the Teacher Roundtable.
Why do you think it’s important to elevate the Duval County Teacher of the Year? What do you think it does for the teaching profession?
It's important because this teacher has been chosen by not only their peers but also by a committee that thinks highly of them and believes they will represent the educators of DCPS in the best way possible. It gives other teachers within the district hope to believe in themselves. So many teachers came to me after winning the 2013 Duval County Teacher of the Year to tell me how I inspire them to be a better teacher and how they would love to pursue a higher career path.
How do you think our public schools have improved over the last 10 years?
I feel public schools have improved over the last 10 years because there are more people of color in higher leadership roles.
What challenges do you think we still need to address in our public schools?
The challenges I believe still need to be addressed in public schools is putting more educators in schools that can relate or identify with our students. The other challenge I feel need to be addressed is implementing restorative practices with fidelity in the most challenging schools.
What are your hopes and aspirations for public schools in Duval County over the next ten years?
As an open-minded educator, I aspire to keep the voice of dissent alive and serve as a reminder that all children deserve to realize their full potential whether or not their needs and accomplishments can be measured and met in a conventional manner. It is important that as educators, we continue to educate the whole child. My motto for ALL students will always be, “Failure is never an option!”
Learn more about Apryl from the video about her that was shared at JPEF's 2013 EDDY Awards.