Polk teacher finalist for Teacher of the Year - WFLA News Channel 8

Polk teacher finalist for Teacher of the Year

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Christie Bassett of Highlands Grove Elementary School in Polk County has been chosen as one of five finalists to compete for the 2015 Macy’s/Florida Department of Education Teacher of the Year Award. Christie Bassett of Highlands Grove Elementary School in Polk County has been chosen as one of five finalists to compete for the 2015 Macy’s/Florida Department of Education Teacher of the Year Award.

Christie Bassett of Highlands Grove Elementary School in Polk County has been chosen as one of five finalists to compete for the 2015 Macy’s/Florida Department of Education Teacher of the Year Award

Florida Department of Education Commissioner, Pam Stewart, along with Mark Misenheimer, Vice President of Macy’s Lakeland, were on hand to surprise Bassett. The K-12 art teacher was called by Principal Cindy Franks and told that she had been chosen as one of five finalists for the prestigious honor. This year’s surprise announcement happened to fall during National Teacher Appreciation Week, a weeklong celebration of teachers in the U.S.

Upon receiving the good news, Ms. Bassett was presented with a $5,000 check made possible by 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 the finalist’s school. This year, the Macy’s Foundation will contribute over $100,000 in cash to the state-run Teacher of the Year program, as it has done since 1988.

"Teachers challenge our children to believe and achieve a better tomorrow. We are honored to support Florida's teachers, who are the backbone of Florida's educational system," said Macy's Executive Vice President and Regional Director of Stores Darlene Hanes. "Macy's thanks Christie Bassett for making her classroom a magical place for her students and inspiring them to reach their full potential."

“I am so proud of the teachers who stood out among their peers to be chosen as statewide finalists for Florida’s Macy’s 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 winner of the 2015 Macy’s/Florida Department of Education Teacher of the Year award will be announced during a ceremony on Thursday, July 10, 2014. The event, hosted by Emmy Award-winning journalist Deborah Norville, will be held at Orlando’s Hard Rock Live at Universal Studios CityWalk.

For the 26th year, Macy’s will sponsor and produce the awards ceremony. During the event, the remaining 67 nominees from around the state will be recognized for their achievements and excellence in teaching. Each of the nominees will be presented with a $750 personal cash award and a $250 grant for their school, funded by the Macy’s Foundation.

In addition to a $10,000 grant funded by the Macy’s Foundation, the Teacher of the Year will receive awards from Macy’s including an all-expense paid trip for four to New York City to attend the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The winner will also serve for one year as the Christa McAuliffe Ambassador for Education, touring the state to spread the word about educational opportunities and challenges in the Sunshine State. To date, Macy’s and the Macy’s Foundation have contributed over $2.6 million to teachers throughout the state.

This year’s five finalists were chosen from more than 180,000 public school teachers throughout the state by a Department of Education-appointed selection committee representing teachers, principals, parents and the business community. Each finalist is selected on the basis of outstanding ability to teach and communicate knowledge of the subject taught, professional development, philosophy of teaching, and outstanding school and community service. The winner must also show a superior capacity to inspire a love of learning in students of all backgrounds and abilities.

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