Superintendent Dr. Joseph Joyner, along with School Board Vice Chair Patrick Canan and School Board Members Kelly Barrera and Bill Mignon, as well as school district staff and representatives from the St. Johns County Education Foundation (SJCEF), had the exciting task of paying a surprise visit to the Teacher of the Year finalists at their schools. This year, the finalists were treated to a visit from a very special guest, Bucky the Beaver, mascot from Beaver Toyota Scion, which serves as a major sponsor of the Teacher of the Year Celebration. Two of the finalists were not available for the surprise visit this year so they received a special phone call from Dr. Joyner and School Board Member Barrera. The finalists are Renata Russell from Crookshank Elementary School (CES); Amanda Devany from The Webster School (TWS); Juliet Hart from St. Johns Technical High School (SJTHS); Charles Moseley, Jr. from Switzerland Point Middle School (SPMS) and Katilyn Collazo from Ponte Vedra High School (PVHS).
Renata Russell is the music teacher at CES and an avid participant in Orff workshops so that she can incorporate new techniques she learns into the classroom. She has 18 years of teaching experience with five of those years in the St. Johns County School District (SJCSD). Russell encourages her students to go for it and not hold back and believes if they are afraid to make mistakes, they will not experience the amazing improvement and growth that is possible. She is involved in a theater program as well as step, chorus and percussion groups with students both before and after school. She was previously selected as Teacher of the Year at CES in 2012.
Amanda Devany teaches a fifth grade, full inclusion class at TWS and is very involved in extracurricular activities with students throughout the school. She has six years of teaching experience with five of those in the SJCSD. Devany holds endorsements in both reading and ESOL. She strives to foster a learning environment in which all of her students feel they are cared for, respected and challenged to their fullest potential. She was also named the Rookie Teacher of the Year at TWS for 2010-2011.
Juliet Hart teaches English/Language Arts to eighth and ninth grade students at SJTHS. She has been employed with the SJCSD her entire teaching career of 10 years. Hart has been a leader in community service activities at her school and encourages and motivates her students through these projects. Building a strong rapport with her students is paramount to Hart so that they trust her and want to work hard for her even when they don’t want to do it for themselves. Hart actively seeks professional development opportunities because her motto is that no matter how old or young you are, if you stand still you will get left behind.
Charles Moseley, Jr. teaches informational technology to eighth graders at SPMS. Prior to this he taught teen leadership to sixth graders. He has been teaching for 20 years, all within the SJCSD at two schools, Cunningham Creek Elementary and SPMS. Moseley credits the annual Florida Education Technology Conference in Orlando as the most influential professional development he receives. Not only has he been a participant for the last 19 years, but he is currently attending this year’s conference as a presenter. He also serves as the sponsor of both the Film Club and the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Club at SPMS.
Katilyn Collazo teaches Social Studies/Humanities for grades 10 through 12 at PVHS and currently serves as the department chair. Her teaching career started 10 years ago in the SJCSD. Collazo is responsible for establishing the Advanced Placement Art History program at both Nease High School and PVHS. She uses the flipped classroom approach in her teaching which provides the ability to have deeper level conversations during class because students arrive with basic knowledge on the subject matter. Focusing on teaching historical inquiry skills daily, Collazo is able to encourage her students to support their perspectives and pose questions to their classmates.
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.
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