2012 St. Johns County Teacher of the Year

Emily Senko, a Spanish teacher at Pacetti Bay Middle School (PBMS) is St. Johns County’s 2011-2012 Teacher of the Year. The announcement was made by Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner at the annual Teacher of the Year and Rookie Teacher of the Year Celebration held last night at the Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village. She will go on to compete in the 2013 Florida Department of Education-Macy’s Teacher of the Year.

Melanie Lawson of WJXT-Channel 4 was the emcee. The St. Johns County Education Foundation (SJCEF) presented the celebration to recognize excellence in the teaching profession and THE PLAYERS was the gold sponsor for the event.

Senko has been the Spanish teacher at PBMS since 2009 for grades 6-8. She possesses eight years of teaching experience with three in St. Johns County. Having completed the International Baccalaureate training, Senko facilitates the integration of this philosophy by leading meetings and training sessions throughout her school. She also serves as a Professional Learning Community Leader, organizing professional growth and vision for others.

Senko’s emphasis on real world application by integrating history and culture into language lessons helps her students to increase their linguistic fluency. She is the only foreign language teacher at PBMS and she teaches approximately 228 students. In order to meet the needs of her students, she utilizes technology to provide differentiation and cultural awareness. Senko works with beginning Spanish students, others who have had some exposure to the language, and those who are heritage Spanish speakers. It is imperative to her that lessons are tailored to meet the individual needs of her students.

She serves as a leader at PBMS in many capacities and is strongly involved in the school’s International Baccalaureate program. Senko serves as a coach for the basketball team inspiring young players to demonstrate character skills in addition to athletic skills and has helped to design murals throughout PBMS to promote an atmosphere of international mindedness.

“Ms. Senko’s dedication to students extends beyond the classroom,” said PBMS Principal Sue Sparkman. “She models strong character each day and all students, as well as adults, in the building respect her as a leader.”

She added, “Her support and enthusiasm allows her to easily build camaraderie and morale with others.”

In addition to recognizing the St. Johns County Teacher of the Year, the SJCEF honored Rookie Teachers of the Year. This was the fourth year the Foundation recognized exceptional teachers with three or less years of teaching experience.

The 33 candidates, nominated in most cases by their peers, completed a process similar to that used for Teacher of the Year. Each submitted an application packet and participated in an individual interview conducted by a panel of retired educators.

The 2011-2012 St. Johns County Rookie Teacher of the Year is Heather Clubb, a fifth-grade teacher at Wards Creek Elementary (WCE). Clubb believes that “laughter is the key to her classroom.” She graduated from Flagler College, and in 2009 started her teaching career at South Woods Elementary as an RTI instructor. She worked primarily with fourth-grade RTI students in small group settings implementing scientifically based interventions in order to help them be able to perform on grade level with their peers. She has also worked in the after school and Saturday school tutoring programs. In August of 2009, Clubb began teaching departmentalized fifth-grade Language Arts at Wards Creek Elementary.

In addition to her educational experiences with the school district, she has been a member of the educational staff at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm for the last three summers. There she has worked with camps and educational programs that are designed to teach children not only about animals found at the zoo, but also about the environments they inhabit. She is also very active in the youth ministry program at Anastasia Baptist Church, and serves as a mentor for teenage girls. She is also involved in Kids Praise, a musical group that meets weekly at her church and has had the privilege of leading over 150 first- through fifth-graders in an interactive time of singing and moving.

“There are such amazing teachers at Wards Creek Elementary and throughout the district, and Ms. Clubb is the perfect representative for this honor,” said WCE Principal Edie Jarrell. “She is a passionate, caring teacher and a true gift to our profession.”

Both the 2011-2012 Teacher of the Year and the Rookie Teacher of the Year will be recognized at the March 13 School Board meeting.

Gifts were provided to the Teachers of the Year and the Rookie Teachers of the Year from several area businesses and organizations including THE PLAYERS; the Four Star Association Inc.; St. Johns County Tax Collector Dennis W. Hollingsworth, C.F.C; and the Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village. This event was made possible by the St. Johns County Education Foundation with monetary or in-kind support from Gold, Silver and Copper sponsors including THE PLAYERS, Leonard’s Studio, Bozard Ford, Community First Credit Union, Flagler College, Florida Power and Light, the Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village, Merrill Lynch, and Northrop Grumman.