Governor Scott Honors Nine Outstanding STEM Teachers with Shine Awards

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, during the Florida Cabinet meeting, Governor Rick Scott recognized nine educators who have made outstanding contributions to their schools and students in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) with the Governor’s Shine Award. The Governor’s Shine Award is presented to Floridians who have positively impacted children through education.

Governor Scott said, “Florida is on a mission to be a global leader in jobs and our teachers are pivotal in preparing our students for careers of the future. Thanks to the hard work of our teachers, Florida’s students are among the best in the nation. I am proud to present the Governor’s Shine Award to these nine teachers for going above and beyond in order to make a difference in the lives of their students.”

Janet Acerra, Pinellas County, Forest Lakes Elementary School
A 30-year veteran of Pinellas County Schools, Janet Acerra teaches fifth grade at Forest Lakes Elementary in Oldsmar, Fla. Acerra has always had a passion for teaching science, and as an inclusion teacher, she has long understood the importance of having students fully engaged in exploring the natural world around them. Acerra strives to meet the needs of all children by providing them with opportunities to ask questions, design investigations and discover answers in a risk-free environment. Acerra likes to say that her classroom is “loud, messy, and full of curiosity” during science lessons. Janet Acerra is currently a STEM club leader at her school and is working as part of a committee to initiate her school’s first STEM Fair, culminating with a hands-on parent night. An avid grant writer, she has developed units of study for her class that go out of the box to meet state standards.

John E. Clark, Volusia County, Deltona High School
John E. Clark is a science teacher at Deltona High School in Deltona, Fla. He is in his eighth year of teaching, and instructs courses in physics, chemistry and environmental science to his 10th-12th grade students. He understands the importance of STEM education, a global perspective and literacy skills for today’s students to be college and career ready. Clark holds Florida State certifications to teach math, physics, chemistry, earth space science and social studies. He is also certified as a content area reading teacher. He has served as the Science Olympiad coach, where he led Deltona High School’s team to the state finals, and the Science Fair coach.

Alicia Foy, U.S. Palm Beach County, Hidden Oaks Elementary
Alicia Foy has been teaching in Palm Beach County for 14 years and currently teaches Enrichment Math and Science at Hidden Oaks Elementary. She is a 2014 state finalist for the Presidential Award for Elementary Science Teachers. Foy is an avid believer in STEM education and provides rigorous, motivating lessons within the STEM framework. She believes that every student possesses innate, problem-solving skill sets and works to develop and enhance those properties through project-and-problem-based learning experiences. She finds that helping students work through their own logical solutions brings about achievement at the highest levels of learning.

Deeanna Golden, Jackson County, F.M. Golson Elementary School
Deeanna Golden has been employed with the Jackson County School System teaching kindergarten for 24 years. She has a strong passion for education and enjoys contributing to educational excellence on the school, district, state and national level. She was selected as Golson Elementary School’s 2014-2015 Teacher of the Year, and was one of six nationwide educators to attend a two-week professional development event in Washington DC to write math for the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Illuminations.

Tracy Haley, Leon County, Cobb Middle School
After entering the public school system, Tracy Haley taught elementary school for 16 years and then moved to middle school to teach science. This is her 11th year teaching middle school. Haley currently teaches Science Research in Cobb Middle School’s Magnet STEM Program. They offer an intensive Forensic Program with four completely different crime scenes each year. She also serves as the Beta Club sponsor of 84 seventh and eighth grade students. She is the coach for Cobb’s First Lego League Robotic Team, the first middle school FLL robotic team in Leon County. She firmly believes that teachers should do the best they can, for as many as they can, for as long as they can.

Rachel Morris, Bay County, Rutherford High School
Rachel Morris currently teaches at Rutherford High School in Panama City, Fla. This is her seventh year teaching high school math. She has taught everything from Algebra 1 up to AP Physics; although, she admits her favorite class to teach is geometry. In addition to teaching, she also coaches an after-school mathematics team comprised of high school students. This is her fifth year coaching the Rutherford Math Team.

Natalie Pelham, Duval County, Annie R. Morgan Elementary School
Natalie Pelham is a 5th grade math teacher at Annie R. Morgan Elementary School in the inner city of Jacksonville, Fla. Over the last six years, she has accumulated several honors and awards for her commitment to excellent instruction, innovative classroom management techniques and student accountability. She was named Teacher of the Year at her school in 2013 and went on to be named a Top 15 teacher in Duval County Public Schools. She was also highlighted in the Wells Fargo Excellence in Teaching series and is currently one of three finalists representing the State of Florida for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math & Science Teaching. Natalie’s greatest passion is reaching out to students and inspiring them to strive for excellence inside and outside the classroom.

Sue Traynham, Hillsborough County, Walter L. Sickles High School
Eager to bring high school students into the 21st Century, Sue Traynham uses her unique combination of education experiences that she has gained throughout her more than 25 years of teaching. She has taught math courses at Walter L. Sickles High School since 2001, and continually goes above and beyond to ensure the success of her students. Each day, she actively involves students in a wide variety of motivating activities, including cooperative group work and numerous curriculum based group projects. She is creative and innovative in her approach of teaching mathematics and has contributed greatly to the articulation of the math curriculum.

Rachel Webber, Leon County, Gilchrist Elementary School
Rachel Webber teaches students in 2nd, 4th, and 5th grades at Gilchrist Elementary. Her 10 years of teaching experience include teaching students in grades pre-kindergarten through 5th grade as well as graduate level students. Mrs. Webber’s love for teaching shines as she engages students in learning experiences that are challenging, thought-provoking, and meaningful. Mrs. Webber has coordinated STEM Bowl activities for students in grades 3-5. She is the sponsor for the school’s math competition club and Brain Bowl teams participating in county competitions. Students in Mrs. Webber’s classroom will take part in a higher percentage of integrating technology and hands-on learning. Mrs. Webber is a member of the school’s science, technology, and math committees working together to coordinate a family science night for grades 3-5 and student science week activities.


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