2 of 5 Teacher of the Year finalists from Tampa Bay - WFLA News Channel 8

2 of 5 Teacher of the Year finalists from Tampa Bay

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(left to right) Christie Bassett, Highlands Grove Elementary, Polk County and Kevin Ford, Tarpon Springs High School, Pinellas County. (left to right) Christie Bassett, Highlands Grove Elementary, Polk County and Kevin Ford, Tarpon Springs High School, Pinellas County.
TALLAHASSEE, FL (WFLA) -

We have a lot of talent here in the Bay area, when it comes to teachers. Two of the five finalists for the 2015 Florida Department of Education Teacher of the Year award are from the Tampa Bay area.

Christie Bassett, a teacher at Highlands Grove Elementary in Polk County, and Kevin Ford, a teacher at Tarpon Springs High School in Pinellas County were named as finalists.

The finalists were notified of their nomination by Education Commissioner Pam Stewart during surprise events throughout Teacher Appreciation Week. Governor Rick Scott also congratulated the finalists.

“These outstanding educators deserve congratulations and recognition for the hard work they put into teaching Florida students. Each day, they ensure Florida’s young people are developing the knowledge and skills they need to thrive in the opportunity economy we are creating in Florida. I believe it is important to invest in our education system and our excellent teachers, which is why I secured a permanent pay raise for our teachers and historic total funding for education,” said Governor Scott.

“I am so proud of the teachers who stand out among their peers and were chosen as statewide finalists for Teacher of the Year,” said Commissioner Pam Stewart.

“These educators exemplify the talent, passion and dedication needed to excite Florida’s students about learning as we help prepare them for success in college, career and life.”

The five statewide finalists are:

  • Jill Espinosa, Belle Terre Elementary School, Flagler County
  • Lyndsey Matheny, Citrus Elementary School, Indian River County
  • Christie Bassett, Highlands Grove Elementary, Polk County
  • Kevin Ford, Tarpon Springs High School, Pinellas County
  • Daryl Cullipher, St. Augustine High School, St. Johns County

Each finalist was presented with a $5,000 check from the Macy’s Foundation and a $500 Macy’s gift card. A $1,000 check, also funded by the Macy’s Foundation, was presented to each finalist’s school. This is the 26th year Macy’s has co-sponsored Florida’s Teacher of the Year recognition program.

The Florida Teacher of the Year will be named at a gala event in July. The top teacher will serve for one year as the Christa McAuliffe Ambassador for Education representing the Department of Education and teachers throughout the state.

The Teacher of the Year may conduct workshops, address fellow teachers, parents, and business and community leaders at conferences and meetings, and talk to student groups about careers in education.

He or she will also receive a $10,000 grant funded by the Macy’s Foundation and awards from Macy’s including an all-expense paid trip to attend the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Copyright 2014 WFLA. All rights reserved.


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