EDDY Awards: Celebrating and learning from our best teachers

The EDDY Awards, an annual event to celebrate Duval County's leading teachers, is a time-honored tradition that has grown into its new mission to elevate the role of Jacksonville's best teachers.

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Kay Park

Alimacani Elementary

2016 Florida Blue Duval County Teacher of the Year

Kay Park was named the 2016 Florida Blue Duval County Teacher of the Year tonight at the 25th Anniversary of the EDDY Awards. Park, a third grade teacher at Alimacani Elementary, was selected among five exceptional finalists.

Park was recognized for her leadership within and beyond school walls — mentor, educator and volunteer. She has committed to the teaching profession with nearly 30 years of advancing student achievement in Duval County public schools. Park believes that “every child must know that are capable of success through hard work and perseverance.”

As an educator, Park strives for her students to “see our role models in action.” Parents, community members, law enforcement, first responders and the military are welcome in the classroom to build relationships, trust and mutual respect. Park has a 96 percent rating for the 2014 Collaborative Assessment System for Teachers.

As the 2016 Florida Blue Duval County Teacher of the Year, Park will go on to compete for the statewide title.

The EDDY Awards teacher of the year program is an initiative of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund and it is more than just one day of celebration — it is a year-long effort to celebrate and elevate Duval County’s best public school educators. It includes the Wells Fargo Excellence In Teaching Seminar Series, which will make the best practices and live classroom demonstration of outstanding Teachers of the Year accessible to all teachers in Duval County. The Rotary Clubs of Duval County — the organization that founded the EDDY Awards tradition — provides individual cash awards and establishes five funds at the Jacksonville Public Education Fund for each of the finalists to use for a project at their school. For more information about Park and all 170 Teachers of the Year go to www.eddyawardsjax.org.

The event celebrated 25 years of the EDDY Awards, which was originally started by the Rotary Clubs of Duval County. Past Duval County Teachers of the Year were honored at
the ceremony, including winners going back to 1985.

“It was a thrill to share the 25th anniversary of this event with nearly 1,000 educators and public education advocates,” said Trey Csar, President of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund. “The EDDY Awards is truly the best day of the year.”

Like every Duval County Teacher of the Year, Park will join the Jacksonville Public Education Fund Board of Directors as an ex-officio member for the next year.

“I am inspired by the talented and committed teachers that are working every day in every classroom to help children in our city reach their fullest potential. On behalf of everyone in Duval County Public Schools, congratulations to Kay Park and all of the teachers of the year!” said Dr. Nikolai P. Vitti, Superintendent of Duval County Public Schools.

Each year, Ms. Park strives to create a classroom environment that warmly welcomes all family members. She works very closely with parents in order to establish relationships built on trust and mutual respect. She encourages their involvement at every level, and is committed to maintaining two-way communication through frequent notes, phone calls, conferences and emails in order to build student achievement.

Ms. Park is a highly effective educator and caring role model for her students. Her classroom culture is characterized by high expectations and a belief that each child can and will be successful. The learning environment is welcoming for parents and safe for children. Ms. Park guides her students through well-planned learning activities with great passion and energy.

As a strong teacher leader at Alimacani Elementary School, Ms. Park has successfully mentored pre-service teachers as well as new teachers on staff. One of her former students describes it best:

As a student in her class, Mrs. Park made learning fun. She taught me not only how to read, but to also love reading. She also taught us life lessons. I can still hear her saying, “In order to live a happy life, you must work hard and always try your very best.” She would dance with us in class and we all knew how much she loved each and every one of us. She is the type of person who makes everyone feel special and important. As a colleague, Mrs. Park mentored me when I was first hired at Alimacani. She taught me everything she knew about teaching and about children. She left a lasting impression on my life because I know just how much you can inspire kids to love learning by making them feel special.
– Jenna Pugh, 1st Grade Teacher, Alicamani Elementary School




  • Master’s in Elementary Education, University of North Florida
  • Clinical Educator Certification, UNF


  • Language Arts Co-Lead
  • Response to Intervention Co-Lead
  • National Board Certification, Directing Teacher for UNF Interns


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Douglas Brown

Duncan U. Fletcher High School

As Mr. Brown completes his last year of teaching, those who have had the honor of teaching with him describe him best. His principal at Fletcher High School, Mr. Donald Nelson, shared that the best endorsement he could give Mr. Brown would be to wish that he had more teachers like him and if he had a child at Fletcher High School, he would want him to be in Mr. Brown’s class.

Mr. Brown’s teaching abilities and student achievements are well known at Fletcher High School. In addition to his prowess in the classroom, Mr. Brown has sponsored the Interact Club, the high school equivalent of Rotary International, for the past 14 years. Under his tutelage, the club completed 40 volunteer projects each year including raising over $30,000 to provide three dogs for K-9 for Warriors who provide service dogs to our wounded warriors.

Mr. Brown explains that he assesses his students through formal and informal measures. He says that his students test at the start and at the end of each course and that there is always considerable growth pertaining to the subject matter. But he is quick to add that this is only one part of being a successful teacher. He knows that it is his responsibility to encourage students to grow as individuals. In teaching social studies and especially government, Mr. Brown works to assist students to become involved citizens and lifelong learners. Recently his uncle was at a store and spoke with a clerk whom he had never met. As they spoke, the young woman said, “Mr. Brown is the reason I am in college continuing my education.”

Doug’s teaching goes well beyond student motivation and engagement. He is concerned not only with their academic achievement but their emotional well-being, and their global citizenship. His teaching encourages students to look beyond prescribed curriculum while simultaneously paying heed to the valuable initiatives and programs without complaint. The students not only comprehend the subject matter, but also realize that an investment in the world is necessary to make a change. Doug’s energy and compassion are infectious and set a positive atmosphere in all his undertakings.
– Tina M. Reed, Testing Coordinator, Fletcher High School



  • Bachelor of Arts, History and Education, Mercer University


  • Sponsor of Fletcher High School Interact Service Club – 14 years
  • Varsity Girls Soccer Coach – 10 years
  • Represented Duval County at History Alive Coaches Training in Palo Alto, California
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Dionne M. Clayton

Paxon School for Advanced Studies


A parent of one of the students that Ms. Clayton counseled describes what sets her apart. “Ms. Clayton is the epitome of what an exceptional teacher should be: caring, sincere, knowledgeable, intelligent, understanding, professional, dedicated, encouraging, hardworking, fun, kind, a great communicator, consistent and an overall exceptional individual!” This is an example of high praise from a parent and certainly well-deserved.

Ms. Clayton advises and educates students to use three tools; communication, choices and commitment to ensure their academic success in school and life through counseling. Ms. Clayton sees herself as an Educational Contractor, helping students plan their course of action over a period of time and in various ways with hope of ending up with the career of their dreams.

Ms. Clayton has been able to provide professional development to her colleagues. With the demands of today’s assessments and standards, she and her co-teachers and counselors often feel overwhelmed and need resources to put all of the pieces of the puzzle together, which in the end will achieve student success. Her goal is to offer solutions to fill in the gaps as we move towards becoming proficient with varied demands or new expectations.

Ms. Clayton is an unselfish, dedicated, hard-working, conscientious counselor. The students and adults around her are uplifted as a result of her presence. She is a student advocate that holds students accountable at the same time. She is not easily describable but the impact she has on those around her is consistently positive. As a counselor, Ms. Clayton leads with her heart and follows with her wisdom.
– Royce Turner, Principal, Paxon School for Advanced Studies



  • Master of Arts, Agency Counseling, Hampton University
  • Bachelor of Science, Elementary Education, Hampton University


  • Testing Coordinator
  • Department Chair
  • Junior Class Sponsor
  • Varsity Cheerleading Coach
  • James Weldon Johnson College Preparatory Middle School Teacher of the Year – 2011
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Jaime Plauche

Fishweir Elementary

In Mrs. Plauche’s classroom, a variety of instructional practices are implemented to promote student learning and success. Time is spent cultivating a community, learning rituals and routines, getting to know one another and goal setting. Her classes brainstorm classroom expectations to promote learning in a safe and productive environment and students agree to the expectations by signing their names. High expectations are set academically and behaviorally from the very first day and students rise to these expectations.

As a teacher leader, Mrs. Plauche serves on the Response to Intervention (RTI) team, providing help, guidance and resources to teachers in any way needed. She also serves as a mentor to novice teachers, meeting with mentees on a weekly basis, observing them in the classroom and conferencing to provide suggestions and support.

As Teacher of the Year, Mrs. Plauche encourages teachers to build their own villages. While we often hear it takes a village to raise a child, she believes that teacher needs their own village. The world of education is constantly changing and we all need people to support us, listen to us, encourage us, educate us, fight for us and inspire us as educators.

Former principals for whom Mrs. Plauche has work describe her skills and talents: “Mrs. Plauche is the rare teacher who possesses a combination of talent, instructional skills, and content knowledge, all necessary to ensure each student reaches the demands of today’s rigorous standards.”

Mrs. Plauche has been very open to change, especially in this changing world of education. She is always looking for a way to better her teaching and to learn from her colleagues. She has been utilized as a mentor teacher to other teachers and carries herself as a model for what the teaching profession should be. She provides a nurturing touch to her students and provides a mathematically minded classroom for her third graders. Her smile is contagious and is a highly respected teacher throughout our building.
-- Marianne G. Lee, Principal, Sadie T. Tillis Elementary School



  • Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education, University of North Florida


  • Summa Cum Laude, Honors Program, President’s Honor Roll, Dean’s List
  • Pre-Qualified Best and Brightest Scholarship Recipient
  • Math Lead Teacher, RTI Team Lead, Grade Level Chair, Math Committee Chair
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Darryl L. White II

Matthew W. Gilbert Middle School

Mr. White is a phenomenal teacher who can reach the struggling or troubled students as well as the brightest or most motivated, all in the same class period. His dedication to his students does not stop at the classroom. He serves as the school’s athletic director as well. Mr. White works hard to ensure that the athletes know that they are students first and athletes second. He encourages he students to receive tutoring in areas in which they are struggling and checks in with teachers to be sure his athletes are behaving as model students.

A parent of one of Mr. White’s students helped describe his teaching practices. “His ability to combine the Montessori teaching method generally used in preschool with structured advanced teaching methods used in International Baccalaureate Programs with advanced secondary high school students is nothing less than phenomenal.”

Mr. White’s teaching is guided by his love, acceptance and respect for his students. In his relatively short teaching career, Mr. White has become a model teacher, applying many of the practices he has learned and researched. As a lifelong learner, he implements strategies involving intercultural learning, authentic student engagement and strategies for teaching a differentiated curriculum.

Darryl is one of the most artistically talented teachers I have ever met. He has an innate ability to stand in front of a classroom, or with a group of students, and engage them in real 21st century learning. The students feel valued in his classroom and work relentlessly to contribute to their construction of knowledge for authentic work. His classroom environment and culture is a joy to observe, while his students are conscious of his passion about their lives and learning experiences.
-- Jamelle W. Goodwin, Principal, Matthew W. Gilbert Middle School


  • Ed.D (Educational Leadership, Sports Management concentration), University of North Florida
  • Master of Science in Childhood Education Grades 1 – 6, Syracuse University
  • Bachelor of Social Work, Syracuse University


  • Athletic Director, Matthew W. Gilbert Middle School
  • Grade Level Chair
  • Duval County District Leadership Fellow
  • Teach for America, Jacksonville, Florida, Leader of Teacher Leadership and Development

Additional Honors




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