Today, during a meeting of the Florida Cabinet, Governor Rick Scott recognized eight outstanding educators for their contributions to learning with the Governor’s Shine Awards. The Shine Award is presented to Florida educators who have impacted the lives of students through the classroom. The teachers recognized during the Florida Cabinet meeting were recently named District Teachers of the Year for their respective counties.

Governor Scott said, “I am proud to present the Governor’s Shine Award to the 2014-2015 District Teachers of the Year as we celebrate their commitment to education. Every day, our great teachers work to prepare our students for success in their education and in their careers. Florida’s students are among the best and brightest in the nation thanks to the dedication of teachers across our state.”

The eight 2014-2015 District Teachers of the Year winners invited to today’s meeting come from Alachua, Columbia, Gadsden, Hamilton, Hillsborough, Lafayette, Liberty and Sumter counties.

Joanie Blue, Hamilton County, Central Hamilton Elementary School – In the classroom, Joanie Blue puts forth the extra effort to be the most effective instructor possible. She views her responsibilities to Florida’s children as “her life’s work.” She operates on the philosophy that “failure is not an option” for her students and commits wholeheartedly to her responsibility to ensure that they experience success in their daily lives. She makes sure to develop personal relationships with each of her students and their parents. To Blue, every student matters and her daily goal is to give her students the skill set they deserve in order to live out their dreams.

Patrick Boyko, Hillsborough County, Jefferson High School – Patrick Boyko began teaching in 2007 at Thomas Jefferson High School. His classes have included courses such as World Religions, The Vietnam War, The Holocaust and recently, Wars of the 20th Century. He is known for his creativity, imagination and critical thinking in the classroom, having created multiple unique educational worlds where the students do not just learn the curriculum, they live it. He coaches varsity swimming and tennis and sponsors the JHS Reading Club. Boyko treasures his students and challenges them not only to be academically successful, but also as future responsible adults.

Celena Crews, Columbia County, Columbia High School – Celena Crews is a 9th-12th grade teacher at Columbia High School, where she has taught for more than three years. She teaches AP Calculus, AP Physics and Engineering Technology, among others. She strives to challenge her students to be accountable for their education through her creative instruction techniques and high expectations. Crews creates curriculum and designs lessons to model all aspects of STEM. Because of her dedication, many of her students have selected engineering as their career path.

Emily Keeler, Sumter County, South Sumter High School – Emily Keeler has taught in Sumter County for 26 years. She uses a very hands-on approach to teaching. Her role as a school and district leader in regard to her content area expertise is what makes her standout in the classroom. According to her peers, Keeler’s desire to involve families and the community in her classroom and her continued willingness to support others in their pursuit to improve instruction is why she is the District Teacher of the Year. She was named District Teacher of the Year in 1998; School Teacher of the Year in 1996 and 2000.

Donna Schroeder, Alachua County, Glen Springs Elementary School – Donna Schroeder has been teaching for more than 40 years. She currently teaches a multi-age classroom of kindergarten, first graders and second graders at Glen Springs Elementary School, where she’s been a member of the faculty since 2002. In the classroom, she hosts a “Literary Tea,” where students go through the writing process to create a final bound book to share with parents and community members. She also promotes an emphasis on cooperative interaction among peers with meaningful instruction that builds character and social skills. She’s passed on her love of teaching to her two daughters, who are also teachers.

Cassie Vickers, Liberty County, Hosford School – Cassie Vickers has taught for a total of six years and is the standard as far as what is looked for in a teacher. She is hardworking, compassionate, honorable, a person of integrity and a lifelong learner that constantly assesses what she does by asking what is best for her students. Her classroom emphasizes deep thinking, small groups, classroom discussion, as well as making the student the teacher as much as possible. She sees herself as a facilitator to learning, a motivator and a role model to her students as much as a teacher. As a math teacher, she’s always looking for a new way to get students engaged in her subject. The kids in her classes take turns working out problems on white boards and they keep math journals to reinforce what they’re learning.

Kameelah Weeks, Gadsden County, Havana Middle School – Kameelah Weeks is the Reading Coach at Havana Middle School. Weeks has been teaching in the district for the past eight years and has become a valued member of the Gadsden County community. It is her core belief that education strengthens communities, which propels her commitment and dedication to her students and profession. Motivating students to embrace and take ownership of their learning is what Weeks aims to do daily. Her ultimate goal is to meet each child where they are academically in order to help them become lifelong learners.

Sunny Wimberley, Lafayette County, Lafayette Elementary School – Sunny Wimberley has worked in Lafayette County for the past nine years. She began as a VPK teacher and then transitioned into second grade where she has taught the past eight years. Wimberley was chosen as Teacher of the Year because of her outstanding leadership within her second grade team of teachers, her willingness to go above and beyond her daily duties and her genuine care and concern about her students’ academics and them becoming well-rounded individuals.

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 192,000 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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