Four finalists for the 2012-2013 St. Johns County Teacher of the Year have been chosen from 35 nominees representing each school in the St. Johns County School District. They are Rob Hall of The Webster School (TWS), Julie Pantano of Switzerland Point Middle School (SPMS), Dr. Kathryn Kehoe of Ponte Vedra High School (PVHS), and Jessica Geronimo of St. Johns County Transition School (SJCTS). Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner, School Board Vice-Chair Bill Mignon and School Board Member Bill Fehling, along with school district staff and representatives from the St. Johns County Education Foundation (SJCEF), surprised the finalists at their schools. The winner, in conjunction with the Rookie Teacher of the Year, will be announced on Thursday, February 21 at the Teacher of the Year and Rookie Teacher of the Year Celebration at the Renaissance Resort at the World Golf Village.
Rob Hall, a fourth-grade teacher at TWS, has been teaching for 15 years. His years of teaching have all been within St. Johns County Schools, and he has been at TWS since 2007. Mr. Hall received his certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. He has had the opportunity to host practicum students from Flagler College and the University of North Florida and has served as a directing teacher for full-time interns and mentor for new teachers. He places an emphasis on the fact that sometimes asking questions are more important than the answers, which encourages his students to work collaboratively to investigate and share different ideas and discoveries.
Julie Pantano has been the Gifted/Advanced Language Arts Teacher for seventh graders at SPMS since 2010. She possesses six years of teaching experience which has spanned both middle school and college level instruction and was previously the Assistant Professor of English for the University of Maryland University College in Heidelberg, Germany. She holds memberships in the International Reading Association and the National Council of Teachers of English and has presented at both national and local conventions. Every day Mrs. Pantano’s students recite a poem written by her which reiterates their focus on writing and reading to further literate connections and contributions to the world.
Dr. Kathryn Kehoe teaches science and biotechnology at PVHS. She possesses 22 years of teaching experience and has been teaching within St. Johns County for the last eight years. She previously taught for Greenhills School in Michigan, Eastern Michigan University and Jacksonville University. Dr. Kehoe currently mentors a new biotechnology teacher in Madison County, Florida while she also serves as a resource to other science teachers at PVHS. She was awarded as the Regional Outstanding Teacher by the American Chemical Society in 2006. Dr. Kehoe regularly combines hands-on activities with traditional methods of instruction. This ensures that her students understand why they are learning a topic, how they can apply the information learned and the ability to further their knowledge through independent thinking and problem-solving skills.
Jessica Geronimo has been a middle school, self-contained autism teacher at St. Johns County Transition School since 2011. She possesses four years of teaching experience with more than half of those in St. Johns County. In addition to her classroom instruction, Ms. Geronimo participates as a big sister in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and as a volunteer for the Special Olympics and the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities. Her philosophy on teaching is to create coherence among the school, home and community environments for her students. A large part of her job, especially in dealing with students with severe autism, is to determine and develop what functional job and life skills will resonate in their post-academic lives.
The annual Teacher of the Year and Rookie Teacher of the Year Celebration is produced by the SJCEF to recognize excellence in the teaching profession. For more information on the SJCEF visit www.sjcef.com.