For Hometown News
MARTIN COUNTY -- Three teachers out of a group of 22 nominees received recognition at the Education Foundation of Martin County's Teacher of the Year awards celebration, presented by Publix, which took place at the Port St. Lucie Civic Center.
Congratulations to LaRhonda Brown, a Visual Arts teacher at Port Salerno Elementary, for being named the Martin County School District's Teacher of the Year.
Prior to being named the District winner, Mrs. Brown was also named Elementary School Teacher of the Year, sponsored by The Palm Beach Post.
Mrs. Brown has been teaching for a total of ten years, including eight years in Martin County at Port Salerno Elementary School. Since the beginning of her teaching career, Mrs. Brown has been on a mission to fulfill what she believes to be the purpose of public education, "going beyond creating proficient readers and mathematicians, but also developing creative thinkers, innovators, and problem solvers."
A fellow educator and parent of a former student, Theresa Salvatore-Fuller describes Mrs. Brown as a "dedicated educator, passionate about her craft and committed to fostering creativity and courage in all children."
Mrs. Brown is continually developing her students' ability to think critically about their work, creating connections between literature and works of art, and building cross-curricular lessons like incorporating reflective journals within her classroom. Mrs. Brown's reach extends beyond the classroom, where she ensures all students have the opportunity to display their works of art throughout the school and for the betterment of the community. One of her favorite projects is the "Empty Bowls" project she produces along with her students. After hand crafting bowls out of clay, painting and firing them, the students host a public event bringing parents and children together to share a bowl of soup to raise awareness of hunger and the needs within our community. Younger students created touching placemats with messages of hope and, together, they raised money to support a local food pantry.
Mrs. Brown also coordinates the after school art club where students organize school beautification projects while practicing their talents. She created her school's Fine Arts Night to increase parent and community involvement and showcase student creations. In addition, Mrs. Brown serves on a number of school committees including the School Improvement Committee for literacy and math, the PTO's Community Involvement Committee, and the School Advisory Committee. According to her principal, Liz Tetreault, "Mrs. Brown is one-of-a-kind and her exceptional talent and heartfelt commitment culminate into an amazing art program for our students and our community. Her dedication to our students, the fine arts, and her craft make her the BEST candidate for Martin County's Teacher of the Year!"
LaRhonda Brown will now represent the Martin County School District in the Florida Department of Education's Teacher of the Year competition.
Additional winners announced this evening included the Middle School and High School Teachers of the Year:
High School Teacher of the Year, sponsored by Keiser University - College of Golf & Sport Management, is Ebony Jarrett, Reading/English teacher and team leader at Jensen Beach High School. Ms. Jarrett is a graduate of South Fork High School who has been teaching for the past ten years with the last four years at Jensen Beach High School.
"Ebony has cultivated a great respect and admiration from our students, staff, and administration. She truly represents all of the best qualities of educational excellence in Martin County," states Ginger Featherstone, principal of Jensen Beach High School.
Ms. Jarrett is not only a leader at Jensen Beach High School, but also at the district level where she serves as a Lead Teacher for the Marzano Professional Development School Level Team, New Teacher Evaluation System workgroup committee, and a member of the District Implementation Team for the New Teacher Evaluation System. Being a true believer in lifelong learning, she strives to stay current on the latest trends and best practices to improve her teaching skills thereby maximizing her students' learning experience.
Middle School Teacher of the Year, sponsored by the Education Foundation of Martin County, is Amy Clark, Director of Bands at Murray Middle School, a position she has held for the past twenty years. Ms. Clark is committed to setting high standards for her students and herself. According to Ms. Clark, "School is the coolest place ever!" and her students know that she wouldn't want to be anywhere else. Apparently, Ms. Clark's students feel the same about her classes as Ms. Clark and Murray Middle School have the largest middle school band program in the county with over 270 band members (about one-third of the entire MMS student body). Ms. Clark makes it possible for every student to participate in her program. Whether she is hosting fundraising events, joining online contests, writing grants, or giving free lessons to students in need, Ms. Clark does what it takes to get the job done. As a band family, Ms. Clark lets her students know that they are in it together....at school, during practices, throughout marching and then concert season, in competition, and in life. Now teaching the children of former students, Ms. Clark's band will always play on!
"Martin County is fortunate to have such outstanding educators in our schools. Each of tonight's winners and nominees go above and beyond every day to help our students reach their potential. I congratulate LaRhonda Brown for being named Teacher of the Year. Her dedication and enthusiasm for teaching is evident in everything she does. I also commend Ebony Jarrett and Amy Clark for being named High School and Middle School Teachers of the Year. They are all deserving of recognition," said Superintendent Laurie J. Gaylord.
"We are thrilled to be able to recognize the commitment of our teachers to their students and our community," says Lisa Rhodes, Executive Director of the Education Foundation of Martin County. "This celebration awards exemplary teaching," says Russ Reaver, board member of Education Foundation of Martin County and District Manager of Publix Supermarkets. "The Education Foundation of Martin County and Publix are proud to recognize those on the front line of educating our youth...our teachers."