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Press Release

Friday, July 12, 2013

DOE Press Office

Exemplary Educators Honored at Teacher of the Year Breakfast

~ Two teachers recognized for their commitment outside the classroom ~

Tallahassee, Fla., July 12, 2013 - Two outstanding educators garnered awards this morning at the 2014 Florida Department of Education/Macy's Teacher of the Year Breakfast in Orlando. Jessica Geronimo, a special education and transition teacher at the Evelyn Hamblen Center in St. Johns County, is the winner of the Mary J. Brogan Excellence in Teaching Award, and Megan Williamson, a fourth-grade teacher at North Elementary School in Okeechobee County, is the recipient of the Champion of Children Award.

"My congratulations to Jessica Geronimo and Megan Williamson for their exceptional commitment to expanding learning opportunities far beyond the classroom," said Commissioner of Education Dr. Tony Bennett. "Their efforts represent what so many teachers do every day to enhance their students' lives."

The Mary J. Brogan Excellence in Teaching award honors an educator who goes above and beyond the classroom experience. As a teacher of students with severe autism, Jessica Geronimo demonstrates every day her belief that all children can learn. Through diligence, determination and love, Jessica emphasizes real-world skills so students can transfer what they are learning to the outside world. Jessica integrates life experiences into her students' instruction, ensuring their future success. Jessica is the St. Johns County District Teacher of the Year and was presented with a $1,000 cash award and a plaque.

"Jessica Geronimo is the kind of teacher that would have made Mary proud, and the kind that all of us in education strive to be," said State University System Chancellor Frank T. Brogan. "Her dedication will enrich generations of students to come - not only while in her classroom, but as they move into the real world, taking with them the values she helped to instill."

The Champion of Children Award, sponsored by the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations, recognizes an educator who best incorporates the private sector into the learning environment. Megan Williamson actively works to seek community resources and learning opportunities for her students beyond the classroom. She was instrumental in gathering community resources to construct a school garden that encourages greater literacy skills. Megan is the Okeechobee County District Teacher of the Year and was presented with a $1,000 cash award and a plaque.

"We know that it takes extra effort for teachers to truly seek business and community involvement and investment in their classrooms, which is a large part of what local education foundations do in providing classroom grants and other above-and-beyond opportunities for teachers and students," said Mary Chance, president of the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations. "We sponsor this Champion of Children award with our business partner Florida Power and Light to acknowledge a teacher of the year honoree who consistently seeks outside resources and opportunities for their students."

For more information, visit 2014 Florida Department of Education/Macy's Teacher of the Year.