Orlando, Fla. – Tammy Jerkins, secondary mathematics teacher from Leesburg High School in Lake County, was named the 2018 Macy’s/Florida Department of Education Teacher of the Year at the awards gala held tonight at Hard Rock Live at Universal Studios Orlando. Educators from throughout the state of Florida attended the event to celebrate excellence in education as well as Tammy’s friends and family to celebrate her accomplishment. The event was hosted by journalist Neki Mohan. Governor Rick Scott, First Lady Ann Scott, Florida Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart, and Macy’s Executive Vice President Regional Director of Stores Dennis Witte were on-hand to make the announcement.
Governor Rick Scott said, “First Lady Ann Scott and I are proud to join Macy’s and the Florida Department of Education to recognize the 2018 Teacher of the Year, Tammy Jerkins. I’d like to thank all of these educators for their incredible impact on Florida students and I applaud their commitment to preparing them for higher education and successful careers. The workers and leaders of tomorrow are in our classrooms today and every day, Florida teachers go above and beyond to ensure their success.”
Dennis Witte, Macy’s Executive Vice President Regional Director of Stores said, “Teachers generously give of themselves every day to educate, inspire and motivate their students. By doing this, they elevate and empower future generations to achieve great things. Macy’s is thankful to have the opportunity to celebrate and honor Tammy Jerkins for the contributions she is making by ensuring our students are equipped with critical thinking and problem-solving skills that are vital to Florida’s success.”
This marks the 29th year of Macy’s sponsorship of the Florida Teacher of the Year program. Macy’s and the Florida Department of Education presented Jerkins with a check totaling $25,000, a $1,000 wardrobe, a $1,000 check for her school and an all-expense paid trip for four to New York City to attend this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart said, “Congratulations to Tammy Jerkins on being selected as Florida’s 2018 Teacher of the Year. Mrs. Jerkins’ career has been marked by her commitment to excellence and service to Florida’s students. I look forward to working with her over the next year during her term as the Christa McAuliffe Ambassador for Education.”
The remaining four finalists were presented with a $17,535.00 check from the Florida Department of Education and Macy’s – Elementary school teacher Katelyn Fiori from Vero Beach Elementary School in Indian River County; Exceptional Education teacher Diego Fuentes from the Hillcrest School in Marion County; Elementary school teacher Michael Miller from Kissimmee Elementary School Elementary School in Osceola County; and Mathematics and AVID teacher Vanessa Ko from Palm Harbor Middle School in Pinellas County. Each of the finalists’ schools received a $1,000 check during each of the announcements.
For the 2018 Teacher of the Year program, Governor Rick Scott secured additional state funds for teachers in the program to significantly increase these awards honoring Florida’s top educators.
Additionally, Macy’s presented the Magic of Engagement Award to Keli Sare from Sallie Jones Elementary School in Charlotte County; the Magic of Believing Award to April Wallace from the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind; the Magic of Leadership Award to Jason Kester from Mainland High School in Volusia County; and the Magic of Giving Back to Lauralee Mitchell from Shadeville Elementary School in Wakulla County. Each of these awards were presented to four educators who went beyond the basic job description with unique abilities to continue positive growth in their students.
For the past 29 years, Macy’s has annually contributed to the state-run Teacher of the Year program, making it one of the largest corporate cash contributions to Florida public schools. To date, Macy’s has contributed almost $3 million to teachers throughout the state.
The Florida Teacher of the Year was chosen from 195,744 public school teachers throughout the state by a Department of Education-appointed selection committee representing teachers, principals, parents and the business community. Florida’s top educator was 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 was the teacher’s ability to inspire a love of learning in students of all backgrounds and abilities.
During the gala event, the remaining 68 district winners from around the state were also recognized for their achievements and excellence in teaching. Each of the nominees were presented with a $10,880 personal cash award from the Department of Education and Macy’s.
The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind (FSDB) is a fully accredited state public school and outreach center available tuition-free to eligible Pre-K and K-12 deaf/hard of hearing and blind/visually impaired students. Comprehensive educational services at FSDB are individualized, specific to the unique communication and accessibility needs of each student for independence and lifelong success. FSDB gratefully accepts private donations to support vital programs that directly benefit students and are not paid by state general revenue funds. To visit the school or to learn more about eligibility for enrollment, contact 1-800-344-3732. For more information, visit www.fsdb.k12.fl.us.