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PRESS RELEASE

May 11, 2007

Tom Butler
(850) 245-0413

2008 TEACHER OF THE YEAR FINALISTS ANNOUNCED

TALLAHASSEE – Education Commissioner Jeanine Blomberg today recognized the five finalists for the 2008 Florida Department of Education/Macy’s Teacher of the Year. The finalists were selected from district winners across the state and represent more than 180,000 Florida educators. Each finalist was selected on the basis of superior ability to teach and communicate knowledge of the subject taught, professional development, philosophy of teaching, and outstanding school and community service.

“It is my honor to recognize such a talented group of professionals as finalists for the Teacher of the Year award,” said Commissioner Blomberg. “Their devotion and selfless pursuit of a better future for their students is an inspiration to us all.”

The five finalists are:

  • Richard Ellenburg, a science lab teacher at Camelot Elementary School in Orange County.
  • Deborah Fahmie, a music teacher at Cypress Elementary School in Osceola County.
  • Robert Johnson, a ninth through 12th grade social studies teacher at Port Charlotte High School in Charlotte County.
  • Dr. Sandy Melillo, a ninth through 12th grade English/TV production teacher at Northeast High School in Broward County.
  • Diane Tomko, a ninth through 12th grade gifted language arts teacher at Flagler Palm Coast High School in Flagler County.

In honor of their commitment to education, Macy’s presented each finalist with a $5,000 check and a $500 Macy’s gift card. Macy’s also presented $1,000 to each of the finalists’ respective schools to be used toward educational programs. This year, Macy’s will contribute over $100,000 in cash to the state-administered Teacher of the Year program, as it has done for the past 19 years.

“At Macy’s, we feel teachers are our state’s greatest human resource. That’s one reason why we’re proud of our long-standing commitment to education in Florida,” said Julie Greiner, Chairman and CEO, Macy’s Florida. “The Teacher of the Year program gives us the opportunity to honor the best in the state as well as motivate teachers to strive for excellence in their own communities.”

The remaining district winners each will receive $750 from Macy’s, a $100 Macy’s gift card plus $250 for programs at their respective schools. In addition, the finalists’ names, photos and schools will be displayed in Macy’s stores May through August.

The 2008 Florida Department of Education/Macy’s Teacher of the Year will be named Thursday, July 12, during a ceremony honoring Florida’s teachers at Hard Rock Live® at Universal CityWalk®, Orlando. The winning teacher will receive a total cash prize of $10,000 from Macy’s, a customized trophy and an all-expense paid trip to New York City for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. In addition, he/she will 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.