Teacher of the Year Finalists

Three finalists for the 2010-2011 St. Johns County Teacher of the Year have been selected from among 33 nominees. They are Beth Upchurch of Ketterlinus Elementary School (KES), Lisa Haas of Liberty Pines Academy (LPA) and Becci Smith of Pedro Menendez High School (PMHS).
The teachers all received a surprise visit to their classroom today from Superintendent Joseph Joyner and district staff to announce their selection as finalists. The winner, along with the Rookie Teacher of the Year, will be announced at the annual Teacher of the Year Celebration on February 17 at the Renaissance Resort in World Golf Village.
Beth Upchurch is currently serving as a co-literacy coach and a fourth grade teacher at KES. She also mentors an Associate Teacher in her position as Lead Teacher in a co-teach classroom. Ms. Upchurch has taught in St. Johns County for the past 28 years, including nine years at R. B. Hunt Elementary School.  In 2006 she was also selected as their Teacher of the Year and as a district finalist.
Lisa Haas, a fourth grade teacher at LPA, has taught for eight years, the last four of those in St. Johns County. She is the recipient of the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Citizenship Education Teacher of the Year Award for Florida and will now compete at the national level. She was also named the 2010 St. Johns River Educator of the Year. Ms. Haas enjoys teaching her peers, as well as her students, and mentors other teachers by serving as a Lead Teacher.
Becci Smith has been a math teacher at PMHS for the past nine years. Shortly after the events of September 11, 2001, she left a successful career as a stockbroker to make an even greater investment in the lives of children.  Ms. Smith served as a substitute teacher at PMHS until a permanent position became available. She teaches students with all levels of ability and serves as a mentor to new math teachers.
The annual awards banquet is sponsored by the St. Johns County Education Foundation to recognize excellence in the teaching profession.