Governor Rick Scott Presents Shine Awards to Nine Teachers of the Year

Today, during the Florida Cabinet meeting, Governor Rick Scott recognized nine outstanding educators for their contributions to learning with the Governor’s Shine Award. The Shine Award is presented to Floridians who have positively helped children through education. The teachers were recently named District Teachers of the Year for their respective counties.

Governor Scott said, “Teachers provide our students with the framework for success inside and outside the classroom. With this foundation, Florida’s students are among the best and the brightest in the nation, and are prepared for a career. I am pleased that our 2014-2015 District Teachers of the Year could join us today as we celebrate their commitment to education.”

Shine Award Recipients:

Danielle Clark, Santa Rosa County, Holley Navarre Intermediate School – Danielle Clark teaches fourth grade at Holley Navarre Intermediate School in Santa Rosa County. She is unwavering in her commitment to excellence and achievement in the classroom, and has been instrumental in the implementation of cutting-edge learning techniques such as the use of iPads in the classroom, differentiated math instruction, data analysis, and a book study focusing on reading entitled “Strategies that Work.” She inspires her students to do good deeds on a daily basis; from sending greeting cards to passing out cookies at Thanksgiving.

Mary Check-Cason, Suwannee County, Suwannee Middle School – Mary Check-Cason is an eighth grade language arts teacher at Suwanee Middle School. Her enthusiasm, love and passion for teaching and students are communicated through her actions daily. She builds strong relationships with students that foster an atmosphere for learning. In her classroom, students are constantly engaged as they all work together for a common goal. Check-Cason is a leader among her peers. She serves as a Language Arts Department chair, and is currently collaborating with the high school language arts department on a vertical writing plan.

Richard Davenport, Washington County, Chipley High School – Richard Davenport, who has been a teacher at Chipley High School for the last 13 years, has a total of 24 years teaching experience in Florida in the field of instrumental music. Davenport believes strongly in the public education system and views his vocation in music as a way to instill in his students the desire to be productive citizens with the skills and character traits that will allow them to be successful in their life after school. Davenport has been a strong advocate for the entire school program and has used his influence, abilities and talents to promote the school mission throughout the community.

Gary Gazlay, Madison County, Madison County Central School – Gary Gazlay is a music teacher at Madison County Central School. He has taught music for the past 39 years at all levels. He began his teaching career in the Madison County Public School. Under his direction, the Madison High School Band was selected to perform at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. He currently teaches instrumental and general music at Madison County Central School and is also a music coordinator at a local church in his community.

Mark Harrison, Union County, Lake Butler High School – Mark Harrison has been a third grade teacher at Lake Butler Elementary School for nine years. Harrison provides a learning environment that engages students in activities that incorporate vigor and innovative techniques. He has been proactive in the implementation of science, technology engineering and mathematic activities for third and fourth graders at his school. The parents and community recognize his dedication for helping current and former students.

Rosalia Hill, Jefferson County, Jefferson Elementary School – Rosalia Hill is a fifth grade science teacher at Jefferson Elementary School. This is her sixth year as a teacher. She has been in the classroom as a teaching assistant for more than 20 years. She started at Jefferson Elementary as a teaching assistant for the Art Department. She is humbled that her peers thought enough of her teaching ability to nominate her to represent the school and district as Teacher of the Year, and thanks her wonderful colleagues and mentors, who have helped her become the teacher she is today.

Brianna Johnson, Nassau County, Callahan Elementary School – Brianna Johnson is a Pre-K ESE teacher with 12 years of teaching experience. Her leadership role at her school includes supervising field experience students, facilitating or co-facilitating numerous workshops and committees at her school such as writing, vocabulary strategies, curriculum standards and science. Johnson’s teaching reflects scaffolding on a masterful level, which is especially critical for her student population of pre-kindergarten exceptional education students. In her classroom, lessons culminate with her young students being able to connect their learning to real-world settings and stating so in individually crafted “I can…” statements.

David Steffey, Marion County, Osceola Middle School – David Steffey is an intensive reading teacher at Osceola Middle School. He has 18 years of teaching experience, primarily with struggling students. He treats his students as individuals, encouraging them to make their own decisions that positively contribute to the learning environment. His concern for kids reaches beyond the classroom walls as evidenced by his campus beautification project (with many of his students participating), founding Tools 4 Teaching (a free teacher supply store with 12,500 shopping visits so far) and Coats for Kids (providing cold-weather clothing to needy students). Steffey’s passion rings through clearly when you see him at his best – in front of students, inspiring them to learn.

Chasity Young, Osceola County, Kissimmee Middle School – Chasity Young is a third grade language arts teacher at Kissimmee Elementary School. Each day, she inspires students to become risk-takers and passionate about learning. As one of Osceola’s most distinguished teachers, she spends numerous hours before and after school to prepare a diversified curriculum. She strives to meet the needs of all of the children in unique ways that instill a confidence and joy for learning.

Each of Florida’s 67 school districts selects a Teacher of the Year who is then considered for statewide recognition. The Florida Teacher of the Year is chosen from 192,000 public school teachers throughout the state by a selection committee representing teachers, principals, parents and the business community. Florida’s top educator is selected on the basis of the superior ability to teach and communicate knowledge of the subject taught, professional development, philosophy of teaching and outstanding school and community service. The most important qualification is the teacher’s ability to inspire a love of learning in students of all backgrounds and abilities.


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