Brevard County Teacher of the Year Finalists Announced
By Space Coast Daily // November 25, 2014
winners will be announced Jan. 28
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Six Brevard Public Schools teachers recently found out they were selected as finalists for the 2015 Teacher of the Year.
The finalists are: Rebecca Carlson-Burke, Christa McAuliffe Elementary; Cindy Washington, Stone Middle; Shelley Ruiz, Cambridge Elementary; Vanessa Skipper, Cocoa Jr./ Sr. High; Amy Parsons, Tropical Elementary, and Michael Coppola, Astronaut High.
These individuals were selected from among the 89 district Teacher of the Year nominees by a panel of judges comprised of principals and teachers from the north, central and south areas. Finalists were measured against a rigorous set of criteria that include teaching philosophy and practice, leadership, professional development and parental engagement in the learning process.
“These outstanding teachers exemplify the skillful and inspired work taking place in Brevard’s classrooms every day,” said Brian Binggeli, BPS superintendent. “Their service provides incredible learning opportunities and success for the children of this community.”
The 2015 BPS Teacher of the year will be chosen by a committee composed of education and civic leaders in the formal selection process and will be announced in the ceremonies at the ABC Awards Gala on Jan. 28, 2015 at The King Center in Melbourne. The winner will be Brevard’s representative in the state’s 2015-16 Florida Department of Education-Macy’s Teacher of the Year.
Additional information on the six finalists follows:
Rebecca Carlson-Burke, Christa McAuliffe Elementary
Employed with the district for 19 years, Rebecca Carlson-Burke has taught first grade at Christa McAuliffe Elementary in Melbourne for 17 of those years. As a primary teacher, Carlson-Burke enriches the lives of her students by always encouraging them to persevere through their hardships. Just as she provides guidance to her students, Carlson-Burke also serves as a role model to her peers as she strives to emulate the most current and best teaching practices by facilitating trainings on Common Core strategies, grade level standards, and additional learning strategies. She is also a mentoring teacher. She volunteers outside the classroom by providing literacy programs at public libraries and helped initiate Christa McAuliffe’s Title I program. Carlson-Burke is a national board certified teacher and is currently pursuing a master’s of education in curriculum and instruction with a focus on reading from Grand Canyon University.
Cindy Washington, Stone Middle
At Stone Magnet Middle in Melbourne, Cindy Washington has taught seventh grade language arts for the past six years. Washington holds a bachelor’s of science in both English and social studies, and is a board certified teacher in English language arts/early adolescence. In addition to her teaching role, Washington serves as the department chair, is a district B.E.S.T. trainer and is a member of both the AVID and CTE learning professional teams. Focusing on well researched and practical subject area teaching strategies, Washington’s expectations of students include having them create meaningful textual connections, critically assess the content of each connection and implement them by fostering active engagement across curriculums. To reinforce these practices, Washington works diligently with her interdisciplinary team to collaborate on meeting these standards.
Shelley Ruiz, Cambridge Elementary
As an educator for the past five years, Shelley Ruiz inspires the love of learning science to students at Cambridge Elementary in Cocoa in her position as Title I teacher and coordinator. Ruiz directs the school’s science lab, where she incorporates the latest research on inquiry, differentiation, teaching styles, technology, collaboration and higher level thinking. Winner of the 2014 Exemplary Science Teacher award, Ruiz models instructional strategies, provides materials and resources to teachers and parents, and mentors teachers in all grade levels. In addition to her primary role, Ruiz is vigorously involved in school initiatives by acting as the sponsor for the safety patrols, energy patrols, recycling team and is the science fair coordinator. She has a bachelor’s of science degree in early childhood education and a master’s of art in varying exceptionalities.
Vanessa Skipper, Cocoa High
Employed by the district for eight years, Vanessa Skipper has spent the last five teaching Language Arts III and English III Honors courses at Cocoa High. Fueled by her desire to integrate as many different classroom strategies as possible to reach multiple learning styles, Skipper inspires her students to become active participants in their education. Through her involvement in various professional learning development conferences, courses and trainings, Skipper consistently blends her commitment to strong standards-based education, with her ability to engage and support even the most struggling learner. The same level of commitment to Skipper’s students is also seen within the school community as she is the English Department Professional Development facilitator, a member of the Superintendent’s Advisory Council and is actively involved in the Brevard Federation of Teachers organization. Skipper has a bachelor’s of art in advertising and public relations and a master’s degree in English and language arts education.
Amy Parsons, Tropical Elementary
Sixth grade teacher, Amy Parsons at Tropical Elementary in Merritt Island, calls upon her excellent public speaking skills to present at many professional development and learning community activities. She has been with the district for 11 years and has served as Tropical’s sixth grade team leader and social studies contact. She has been a member of BPS’ VIPS team, the Florida standards team, and served as a peer coach for other teachers. Parsons actively pursues professional growth and can always be found reading a new professional book or participating in various learning opportunities, deepening her already extensive knowledge base. She has two degrees from The University of Central Florida including a bachelor’s of art in business administration with a minor in education and a master’s degree in elementary education.
Michael Coppola, Astronaut High
Michael Coppola’s dedication to Astronaut High in Titusville can be measured by the number of seniors who mention Coppola in their graduation speeches. Many of his students go on to pursue arts-related jobs and later call on Coppola’s expertise for a resource. He always has 70 or more students enrolled in his choral program and is the chair of the fine arts department. He has taught in BPS schools for 17 years and is a mentor and peer counselor to other teachers. Coppola is extremely involved with the school’s drama department and can also be found at the Titusville Playhouse as its music director. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in music education degree from Western Connecticut State University.
BPS Teacher of the Year Nominees are listed by school area.
Finalists are highlighted.
|SCHOOL||FIRST NAME||LAST NAME|
|Port Malabar Elementary||Valeri||Gilstad|
|Palm Bay Magnet High||Lauren||Feronti|
|South Area Alternative Learning Center||Sebastian||Piccione|
|Hoover Middle||Martha Jane||St. Denis|
|West Shore Jr./Sr. High||James||Finch III|
|West Melbourne School of Science Elementary||Rebekah||Villanueva|
|Palm Bay Elementary||Dona Kim||Ogborn|
|University Park Elementary||Brooke||Link|
|Meadowlane Primary Elementary||Janell||Jones|
|Harbor City Elementary||Stephanie||Thron|
|Stone Magnet Middle||Cindy||Washington|
|Lockmar Elementary||Sharon P.||Latner|
|Christa McAuliffe Elementary||Rebecca||Carlson-Burke|
|South Area Head Start||Cassandra||Kuhn|
|SCHOOL||FIRST NAME||LAST NAME|
|Sea Park Elementary||Rochelle||Schneider|
|ESE Program Support||Theresa||Bradley|
|Johnson Middle||Deidre M.||Carroll|
|Cambridge Elementary Magnet||Shelley||Ruiz|
|Golfview Elementary Magnet||Sharon||Murray|
|Adult Education Center||Mercedes||Alvarez|
|Hans Christian Andersen||Terri||Tomassi|
|McNair Magnet Middle||Janice B.||DeLoach|
|Cocoa High||Vanessa Lorraine||Skipper|
|Eau Gallie High||James Bradley||Lustic|
|Ocean Breeze Elementary||Margret M.||McNally|
|Ralph Williams Elementary||Vicki Long||Sibbitt|
|SCHOOL||FIRST NAME||LAST NAME|
|Freedom 7 Elementary||Lisa||Enrique|
|Imperial Estates Elementary||Linda||Mikell|
|Lewis Carroll Elementary||Amelia||Eastes|
|Roosevelt Elementary||Cindy S.||Maytrott|
|Virtual Instruction Programs||Laurie||Pattillo|
|Cape View Elementary||Linda Kay||Gunde|
|Astronaut High||Michael T.||Coppola|
|Cocoa Beach Jr/Sr High||Betsy B.||Butler|
|Merritt Island High||Abby||Saul|
|Andrew Jackson Middle||Angela||Bentley-Henry|
|Edgewood Jr/Sr High||Jeremy||Moore|
|Oak Park Elementary||Kimberly||Harris|
|Space Coast Jr/Sr High||Karrah||Hudkins|
|Enterprise Elementary||Jackie Dawn||Gould|
|Challenger 7 Elementary||Jessica||Olds|
|Sculptor Charter||Patricia Lapentti||Bean|
|Thomas Jefferson Middle||Heather||Mason|
|Robert Louis Stevenson Elementary||Laurie||Sargeant|