Today at the Florida Cabinet meeting, Governor Rick Scott showed his appreciation for Florida’s teachers and applauded their commitment to improving Florida’s education system by presenting special commendations to the 2013 Florida Teacher of the Year and several North Florida 2013 – 2014 District Teachers of the Year. Additionally, Governor Scott presented the Governor’s Shine Award to Alex Lopes, Florida’s 2013 Teacher of the Year.

Governor Scott said, “Educators change lives, and that’s why it’s important we honor teachers for their success in preparing Florida’s future generations for the workforce. Thanks to our teachers, Florida’s education system is 6th in the nation and Florida students are competing and succeeding internationally. Because of our teachers’ commitment in the classroom my Florida Families First Budget supports classroom teachers with a $2,500 pay raise and additional funding for classroom supplies.”

The six 2013 – 2014 District Teachers of the Year received a special commendation which was created to honor Florida’s valued educators and their efforts to foster greater student achievement. The six winners invited to today’s meeting come from Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Jackson, Madison, and Washington counties.

The participating 2013 – 2014 District Teachers of the Year are below:

  • Brandon Mullins, Bay County – Mullins is a science teacher at Parker Elementary School and loves what he does for a living.  “I am passionate about how our world works and want to share that passion with all my students. From the things that swim in our seas to the things that float out in space, a hands-on approach to science is what I am aim for. There is so much poetry in the world; science is the poetry of life.”
  • Karen Tomlinson, Calhoun County Tomlinson is an algebra and geometry teacher at Blountstown High School and has been with the Calhoun County School District for the past 29 years, teaching all levels from elementary to high school. From her years of experience, she believes that students learn best in a small group environment. “I teach through small groups, giving manageable chunks of information to practice, and test often to check for mastery of the material.”
  • Carmel Dodson, Gulf County – As a teacher at Port St. Joe Elementary School, Dodson helps her students discover their uniqueness and understand how that develops into their contribution to society. “While the academics are ongoing, I seek to be truly listening, interested in each student, and committed to helping them grow to their greatest potential.”
  • Cornelius Clark, Jackson County Clark is a science and language arts teacher at Graceville High School. “Teaching is a rewarding career because of the influence that one has over the children. I tend to look at my role as educating instead of just teaching. Educating is empowering the students with the abilities, tools, and knowledge to be successful in their lives.”
  • Joanne Ragans, Madison County Ragans loves teaching math at Pinetta Elementary School because even after 30 years, every day offers new challenges. She says, “People say teaching is a difficult job, but I say it is the only job worth doing because inspiring and aiding in the development and successes of my students has given my life a meaning no other career could have fulfilled. I embrace these experiences every day I teach, because I love my job.”
  • Melissa Whitson, Washington County With 26 years in the teaching profession, Ms. Whitson is an excellent role model for her colleagues at Roulhac Middle School where she teaches seventh- and eighth-grade language arts. “Not many can argue that teachers must have a passion for teaching to make a career of public education. To meet the high demands of our Florida classrooms, we must all pull together to produce students who become good scholars and good citizens.  In addition, they must be equipped to meet the demands of higher education.”

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.


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