Superintendent Tim Forson, along with School Board Chair Bill Mignon and School Board Member Bev Slough, as well as school district staff and representatives from INK!, The Players, Beaver Toyota and Carlyle paid a surprise visit to the Teacher of the Year finalists at their schools. This year, the finalists were also treated to a visit from a very special guest, Bucky the Beaver. The finalists are Amy Grimm from Julington Creek Elementary School (JCES); Kathleen Hunting from Osceola Elementary School (OES); Jonathan Higgins from Pedro Menendez High School (PMHS); and Chassity Johnson from Sebastian Middle School (SMS).
Amy Grimm is a first-grade teacher at JCES and a mentor to other teachers who considers it her responsibility to model being a leader to her students. She believes in developing and supporting the whole child and takes a thematic approach in her classroom. It is not uncommon for her to also be seen at her students’ extracurricular activities supporting and cheering them on. She has 22 years of teaching experience all within the St. Johns County School District (SJCSD). Her message to fellow teachers is that what they do matters and they are loved, capable and important each and every day.
Kathleen Hunting teaches second grade at OES and is a school wide leader in technology who loves sharing what she learns with her students and colleagues. She is continually inspired by her students and has the privilege of seeing them grow emotionally and academically each day. At OES, she has served as a Girls on the Run coach for the past six years to help third through fifth grade girls be positive and become strong, independent leaders. She has six years of teaching experience all within the SJCSD. Her message to students is that the only reason she exists in the school setting is to provide a safe and nurturing academic environment for them.
Jonathan Higgins is an IB Psychology teacher for 11th and 12th grade students and was instrumental in creating the IB program at PMHS. Student and parent praise are what drives him as an educator and reminds him that doing what is in his heart is far more important than a numerical score. He has nine years of teaching experience all in the SJCSD. His message to others is to focus on the aspirations of each student, regardless of his/her academic ability and that all students should be afforded the opportunity to participate in advanced courses or various programs of study if they desire regardless of their skills and abilities.
Chassity Johnson is an eighth grade pre-algebra and geometry teacher at SMS who also participates in the student intern program St. Augustine High School’s Teaching Academy each year affording her the opportunity to welcome many former students into her classroom in a different role. She realizes that many of her students may have unfavorable situations outside of school and she is inspired to be the constant figure in their lives. She has 14 years of teaching experience, 10 of which have been in the SJCSD. Her message to other teachers is best relayed in a quote from Maya Angelou, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
The annual Teacher of the Year and Rookie Teacher of the Year Celebration is produced by the INK! to recognize excellence in the teaching profession. For more information on INK visit https://ink-stjohns.org/.