St. Johns County Teacher and Rookie Teacher of the Year

Daryl Cullipher, an English teacher at St. Augustine High School (SAHS), is St. Johns County’s 2013-2014 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 banquet held on Thursday, February 13 at the Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village. Cullipher, who has seven years of teaching experience all in St. Johns County, was selected from 36 district teachers and five finalists. She will go on to compete in the 2015 Florida Department of Education-Macy’s Teacher of the Year.

The evening’s events were presided over by School Board Member Patrick Canan. School Board Chairman Bill Mignon assisted with the evening’s events and honoring the recipients as they were recognized on stage. The St. Johns County Education Foundation (SJCEF) presented the celebration to recognize excellence in the teaching profession with Beaver Toyota Scion of St. Augustine and THE PLAYERS as the major sponsors for the event.

Cullipher teaches English at St. Augustine High School and her philosophy of education is simple, get students engaged and energetic in their learning. She uses websites like Go Animate which allows her students to manipulate anime characters to bring their creative writing to life. She also credits the use of CPS clickers as a revolution in her classroom to get students ready for FCAT, which has resulted in an upward trend in her students’ scores.

She co-founded the St. Johns County Academy of Future Teachers and played a pivotal role in earning model academy status from the National Coalition of Career Academies. This academy also just won the “Outstanding Chapter” award for the second consecutive year, which is given to Florida Future Educators of America chapters that create innovative opportunities and support for students getting involved in the community classroom.

Cullipher tutors college and high school students in writing strategies and grammar lessons, acts as a STING mentor at SAHS and puts an emphasis on service learning opportunities for her students including Helping Hands in the Sand, Shape Your Earth, Body Wellness and We have Character. In addition, she oversees part-time internships of 26 students in over nine schools within the district.

“Mrs. Cullipher is consistently the most effective and innovative educator in our building, and is the go-to person for teachers who wish to see a model of collaborative learning. Her students interact with technology every day as part of their instruction,” said SAHS Principal Cathy Mittelstadt.

In addition to recognizing the St. Johns County Teacher of the Year, the SJCEF honored Rookie Teachers of the Year. Since 2008, the SJCEF has recognized exceptional teachers who possess three years or less of teaching experience.

The 35 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 2013-2014 St. Johns County Rookie Teacher of the Year is Rebecca Royal, a fourth-grade teacher at Palencia Elementary School (PES). Royal’s goal for teaching students is for them to develop into their own person with their own thoughts and experience. This is a hard task in the age of technology, and Royal believes students are often given the answers too frequently. She believes that students should make mistakes, solve math problems incorrectly and design experiments that don’t work. She infuses excitement into her fourth-grade classroom with “silly” and “serious” time. For her students who are having trouble focusing in class, she has found the flipped classroom to be the best way to instruct them. With this innovative method of teaching, the student, parent and teacher are all on the same page with concepts and how they are being taught.

Royal graduated from Flagler College and in 2011 and was hired as a third-grade tutor for reading comprehension at Osceola Elementary. She was hired there as a third-grade associate teacher and received her first lead teaching job at PES as a fourth-grade teacher in the 2012-2013 school year where she remains today.

In 2012, Royal was on the first professional volleyball league established in the United States, Team Florida Wave. She and her teammates not only promoted the sport and enjoyed competitions, they also served as role models to girls ages 6 to 18. She has also spent time as a coach for the North Florida Pirates Volleyball league in Green Cove Springs. These experiences have helped lead her to new heights in the classroom. Her caring nature is evident in everything she does whether it’s coaching the Girls on the Run program at Palencia Elementary or collecting items for Bayview Nursing Home.

Both the Teacher of the Year and the Rookie Teacher of the Year will be recognized at the March 11 School Board meeting.

This event was made possible by the SJCEF with monetary or in-kind support from sponsors including Beaver Toyota Scion of St. Augustine, THE PLAYERS, Community First Credit Union, Flagler College, Florida Power and Light, Herbie Wiles Insurance, Horace Mann Insurance, Rhodes Graduation Services, St. Johns Family Dentistry, UBS, VyStar Credit Union, Canan Law, Contrax Furnishings, Rotary Club of St. Augustine Coastal, Chick fil-A, Coastal Anesthesiology Consultants, Peggy Gachet, Hue Design, SchenkelSchultz Architecture, and Walter and Eliza West. For more information about the SJCEF, visit