Local teachers presented Governor’s Shine awards

Press Release: Today, Governor Rick Scott showed his appreciation for Florida’s teachers and applauded their commitment to improving Florida’s education system by presenting the Governor’s Shine Award to six 2013 – 2014 District Teachers of the Year.

Governor Scott said, “Florida teachers are the hardest working teachers in the world – and our students’ results demonstrate their success. Thanks to Florida’s great teachers, Florida students are competing and succeeding, both nationally and internationally, and that’s why it’s so important we reward classroom teachers with a $2,500 pay raise.”

The six 2013-2014 District Teachers of the Year winners invited to today’s meeting come from Escambia, Jefferson, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Taylor and Walton 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. I am proud to present the Governor’s Shine Award to teachers who go above and beyond to make a difference in education.”

The participating 2013-2014 District Teachers of the Year are below.

· Susan Rigby, Escambia County, Pine Forest High School – Rigby has been teaching for 13 years and currently teaches ninth-grade mathematics at Pine Forest High School. Rigby attributes her passion for teaching to her student’s success in the classroom. “My students see my passion for teaching every day. I believe in them. I care about them. This has changed their attitude about math and learning. They believe in themselves,” said Rigby.
· Nicole Roddenberry, Jefferson County, Jefferson Elementary School – “If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn,” is a saying first-grade teacher Roddenberry holds close to her heart. “My teaching style is one that is engaging, interactive and challenging. I implement differentiated instruction so that each student is challenged at their own level,” said Roddenberry.

· Heather Erickson-Vaughn, Okaloosa County, Elliott Point Elementary School – Erickson-Vaughn has been teaching for eight years and is currently a kindergarten teacher at Elliot Point Elementary School where she fosters an environment of love and respect in her classroom. “In my classroom we love and respect each other and we never hold each other back. The encouragement and support that we all have for each other is what inspires my students to want to learn,” said Erickson-Vaughn.

· Elizabeth “Ann” Thompson, Santa Rosa County, West Navarre Intermediate School – “My students and I create a classroom family,” said Thompson who teaches third grade at Navarre Intermediate School. “We respect differences and celebrate the successes of each individual in our family. We learn with each other and most importantly from each other. As my students learn to respect and support one another, they gain respect for themselves,” said Thompson.

· Meridith Upshaw, Taylor County, Taylor County Elementary School – Upshaw has been teaching for eight years and currently teaches third grade at Taylor County Elementary School. She brings joy and laughter to her classroom and believes this environment encourages her students. “I feel that through laughter bonds can be built that enables me to reach all learners. We learn to laugh at our mistakes and try again,” said Upshaw. “We offer support and encouragement to each other. We truly build a family and unique support system.”

· Melissa DiCesare, Walton County, South Walton High School – DiCesare has been teaching for 15 years and is currently teaching AP English language arts to 11th and 12th grade students at South Walton High School. “My students become intrinsically motivated because I consistently project my passion for literature and language each day, each class period,” said DiCesare. “Purposeful instruction combined with rigor in a highly efficient, welcoming environment is powerful. Rules and regulations are simultaneously followed because students are on task, motivated and confident, anticipating with zeal what is to come next,” said DiCesare.

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.