Today, during a meeting of the Florida Cabinet, Governor Rick Scott showed his appreciation for Florida’s teachers and applauded their commitment to improving Florida’s education system today by presenting special commendations to several North Florida 2013 Teachers of the Year. The commendation was created to honor Florida’s valued educators and their effort to foster greater student achievement. The five winners invited to attend today’s meeting come from Franklin, Gadsden, Leon, Liberty, and Wakulla counties.
“Every day you help Florida’s students realize their potential, fulfill their dreams, and embark on challenging journeys toward college and successful careers,” said Governor Scott to the teachers in attendance. “Florida’s strong, effective teachers give students an advantage in today’s competitive environment, and that is why I am proud to award this special commendation to teachers who go above and beyond to make a difference in education.”
This special recognition takes place a few weeks after Governor Scott announced his Florida Families First Budget proposal to increase Florida teacher salaries and education funding.
The participating 2013 Teachers of the Year are below:
- Laura King, Franklin County – King teaches social studies and language arts at Franklin County K-12 School. With more than 16 years of classroom instruction under her belt, King’s classroom management is an example to her peers and her use of technology in the classroom captures students’ attention right away.
- Zola Akins, Gadsden County – In addition to being the reading coach at George W. Munroe Elementary School, Akins also teaches language arts, reading, and writing. She has been teaching in Gadsden schools for 11 years. This is her second year as Gadsden’s Teacher of the Year.
- Rebecca Kirchharr, Leon County – Kirchharr is a reading and English teacher at Leon High School. She also serves as a gifted coordinator, reading coach, and coach of the junior varsity tennis team.
- Samantha Newsome, Liberty County – Newsome is a 6th grade math teacher at W.R. Tolar K-8 School. Before beginning her teaching career, she helped Florida children as a child-abuse investigator.
- Jodie Martin, Wakulla County – A 5th grade teacher at Medart Elementary School, Martin is committed to “teaching students, not teaching subjects.” She is a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, the Medart Reading Leadership Team, the science curriculum team, and math curriculum team.
Each of Florida’s 67 school districts selects a Teacher of the Year who is then considered for statewide recognition. The Florida Teacher of the Year is chosen from more than 180,000 public school teachers throughout the state by a selection committee representing teachers, principals, parents and the business community. Florida’s top educator is selected on the basis of the superior ability to teach and communicate knowledge of the subject taught, professional development, philosophy of teaching and outstanding school and community service. The most important qualification is the teacher’s ability to inspire a love of learning in students of all backgrounds and abilities.