West Shore’s Jill Whitacre Recognized as Cape Canaveral Air Force Association’s Florida Teacher of the Year
By Russ Lewey, Cape Canaveral AFA // July 10, 2020
Whitacre has inspired young people for 20 years
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – When the Cape Canaveral Air Force Association Chapter received the Teacher of the Year Package from West Shore Junior/Senior High School’s principal Rick Fleming there was no doubt they had an outstanding candidate.
Their intuition was “spot on” as Jill Whitacre was selected as the Chapter Elementary Teacher of the Year and was just selected as Florida AFA Teacher of the Year.
Whitacre has been inspiring young people for 20 years and this past school year, she taught 7th and 8th graders math and robotics.
It was 12 years ago when she started West Shore’s first Lego League Team for 4th through 6th grades. And, in 2014, she initiated a Robotics Program, which is still going strong.
Particularly noteworthy, is that a large percentage of those in the Robotics Program are female. Continuing evidence of her work to inspire young women to pursue STEM studies was her recent trip to the Air Force Technical Application Center.
There she had 8th and 9th-grade young ladies take part in the Women in Science and Engineering Symposium (WiSE) for a STEM Pioneer Hands-on Day.
Her students have even traveled to Europe to compete in the Monaco Mousetrap Grand Prix Finals, placing second as they were up against teams from France, Italy, and Monaco.
Whitacre is a superior classroom teacher, whose dedication is unmatched. Her principal commented that her car was typically the first in the parking lot, as she works with her Lego team, 90 minutes before school begins.
In addition to inspiring and directly contributing to STEM studies, she ensures young ladies know the challenges that women before them have met and overcome.
Her “Whirly-Girls,” an all-female Drone Team, took their name from the first all-female helicopter pilots who flew during the Vietnam War.
This team traveled to Tallahassee to meet with State legislators in furthering the promotion of STEM education.
Whitacre is the epitome of a dedicated, passionate teacher committed to helping prepare the future STEM workforce of Florida, and the Cape Canaveral AFA Chapter is very proud of its association with her.
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