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Press Release

Friday, January 8, 2010

DOE Press Office
(850) 245-0413

Top Florida Educators Discuss Quality Teaching at Inaugural Task Force Meeting

Florida’s nationally recognized Fellows were also on hand to provide the state with their perspectives on teacher issues

ORLANDO – Education Commissioner Dr. Eric J. Smith welcomed 17 highly-effective Florida teachers to Orlando today for the inaugural meeting of the Commissioner’s Teacher Task Force. Created by the Department of Education, in partnership with the Florida Education Foundation, Task Force members will identify the characteristics of effective teachers and work with Department staff to determine plans to capitalize on these discussions to elevate teaching as a profession across the state. Each Task Force member has been previously recognized for their dedication and individual achievements within the profession.

“The thoughts, experiences and expertise of our best and brightest teachers are essential in our ongoing efforts to improve our school system and the academic capabilities of our students,” said Commissioner Smith. “Teachers are the captains of their classrooms and have a keen understanding of what their students need. By tapping into their knowledge through open and candid dialogue we are not only elevating the teaching profession but creating ideas that are sure to be met with success.”

Members of Florida’s Commissioner’s Teacher Task Force were selected based on their proven track-record of positively impacting student achievement, and they reflect representation from across Florida’s many regions. Task force members will work to ensure open and continued dialogue between the Department and Florida’s educators designed to elevate the teaching profession. Over the course of the next several months, Task Force members will be asked to identify the traits that define an effective teacher, share their own personal experiences in the classroom and with the Department, and address various other issues impacting Florida’s teachers.

Today’s meeting was facilitated by two Task Force members who were recently selected into the National Teaching Ambassador Fellowship program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. Dr. Adewale Alonge, a middle school science teacher from Homestead Elementary School in Dade County, and Jasmine Ulmer, a Title I Math Coach and Gifted Teacher at Lake Butler Elementary School in Union County, are among a team of 13 teachers nationally that have been tasked with assisting the U.S. Department of Education in gathering information and feedback pertaining to education reform across the country.

For more information about the Commissioner’s Teacher Task Force, including a listing of the 17 teachers selected for the group, visit Information about the U.S. Department of Education’s National Teaching Ambassador Fellowship Program can be found at