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INK! Honors Teachers in St. Augustine and St. Johns County

INK!’s (Investing in Kids) Teacher of the Year and Rookie Teacher of the Year awards campaign is currently underway as a special recognition program that honors educators in St. Johns County, Fla. public schools. The St. Johns County Education Foundation, which operates as INK! and two separate groups of panelists will interview nominees from each school to select one teacher with more than three years in the classroom along with a rookie teacher who has less than three years in the classroom. The formally named St. Johns County Teacher of the Year winner will have an opportunity to apply for the Florida Teacher of the Year program.

An inaugural yearbook has been provided by All American Air Charitable Foundation (AAACF), a 501c3 organization in St. Augustine, Fla. The Foundation provides direction and beneficiary selection for charitable giving of its donors, and to organize and operate fundraising activities. Also, renowned local business Leonard’s Photography, is donating production of the yearbook and photography for the print and online publication. Leonard’s Photography is a multi-generational family enterprise that has been operating in Florida for more than sixty-years. The public is also requested to donate to the yearbook efforts with proceeds going to INK! for programs and services.

The yearbook will include Teacher of the Year and Rookie of the Year nominees and finalists along with testimonials from the community, sponsors, and more. The book will be in full color with photo collages and lighthearted moments all reflecting teacher and student life, and campaign highlights, to name a few. Comments collected with online messages about heartfelt thanks to area teachers will be featured in the yearbook with the submitter’s name, family, and business with each entry. INK! is asking for the public’s participation by leaving an inspiring message to be shared in the yearbook. Visit https://ink-stjohns.org/teacher-of-the-year to leave comments.

The countywide awards program builds community awareness of the region’s best educators, while providing constructive messages about the teaching profession. “Teachers are making a difference in the lives of their students every day which is why INK! is excited to host this annual event.  We want to showcase all teachers who have positively impacted a child’s life and the lives of others,” said Donna Lueders, INK! Executive Director.

“Each school nominates a Teacher and Rookie Teacher who make positive advancements for students in school and in their communities,” she said.

Lori Price, St Johns County Teacher of the Year for 2019 through 2020 was teaching at The Webster School in St. Augustine and now teaches first grade at Ocean Palms Elementary School in Ponte Vedra, Fla. She applauds INK! for supporting schools and instructors, especially with the recent challenges of virtual classroom teaching during the pandemic. Price remains optimistic about motivating parents, students and other teachers to help children learn while traversing new online curriculums and in school assignments during the current unprecedented challenges in the classroom.

“As last year’s Teacher of the Year and before the pandemic, I provided some mentoring and leadership for teachers throughout the year, and especially during the countywide math conference which INK! helped sponsor,” said Price. Price adds, she encourages reinforcement for students while they are learning remotely with phone calls to parents and students who need the extra support from teachers, among other opportunities for adjustments and learning. “Parents, students and teachers need to know we’re all on the same team and on the same page. We are all working together during this extraordinary time in education,” she said.

According to Mia Bahr, eighth grade teacher for Exceptional Student Education (ESE) and additional course studies at Pacetti Bay Middle School and Rookie Teacher of the Year for 2019 through 2020, educators work extremely hard to ensure student success. “This year is particularly challenging because many teachers are required to instruct inside the classroom and online at the same time. The INK! awards symbolize the community’s appreciation and much needed recognition and honors for our most outstanding teachers,” she said. “I have learned so much as a new teacher in 2018 after my longtime, previous career as a stay-at-home mom. The support received from INK! and its mission has helped me to become a better teacher.” For more information about the contest and fundraiser, contact David “Davey” Hartzel, INK!’s Director of Fund Development at 904-547-7120 or email su.lf.21k.snhojts@leztraH.divaD.

INK! provides innovative programs and classroom resources to support academic success for all St. Johns County public schools. For the 2020-2021 school year, there are 56 public schools in the County, serving 40,734 students with more than 2,500 teachers. The nonprofit is located at 1 Christopher St. in St. Augustine. For more information, contact Donna Lueders at 904-547-7120 or email su.lf.21k.snhojts@sredeuL.annoD. Visit the website at www.ink-stjohns.org.

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