Commissioner Stewart Names Seminole County Educator Samantha Neff Teacher of the Year Finalist


May 8, 2018

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Commissioner Stewart Names Seminole County Educator Samantha Neff Teacher of the Year Finalist
~ Neff receives $15,000 and chance to compete for statewide Teacher of the Year ~

St. Petersburg, Fla., May 8, 2018 – Today, Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart surprised Samantha Neff during a professional development activity with a check for $15,000 and the news that she is one of five Teacher of the Year finalists. The statewide Teacher of the Year will be announced at the annual Florida Teacher of the Year Gala July 13 in Orlando. Each district’s Teacher of the Year will receive $10,000, and the state winner will receive a total of $20,000.

“With 17 years of experience in public education, Samantha Neff has dedicated her career to ensuring all students have access to a high-quality education,” said Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart. “In Florida, we have made great strides in transforming low-performing schools by ensuring they have educators with a history of success. The fact that Samantha requested to serve as an instructional coach at a struggling school is a testament to her commitment to our state’s students and the teaching profession as a whole. She is a tremendous asset, and I am pleased to recognize her as one of five Teacher of the Year finalists.”

Samantha Neff is a 17-year veteran educator with a proven record of helping students improve their math skills. She is currently in her first year as an instructional coach at Idyllwilde Elementary School, a school that is in the Florida Department of Education’s turnaround program after having earned two consecutive school grades of “D.” At Idyllwilde, she implemented data-driven and solution-oriented professional learning communities to help her colleagues enhance their instruction. Seminole County Public Schools Superintendent Walt Griffin praised her for her professionalism and the way in which she has impacted positively the school’s culture in such a short time. 

Outside of the classroom, she has taken the initiative to plan family nights, with the goal of fostering strong school-to-home relationships; formed a hospitality committee focused on enhancing and maintaining staff morale; and taken on leadership roles within the school. Neff also serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Central Florida’s College of Education and is a featured writer for the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics’ online publication, Teaching Children Mathematics

This year’s five finalists were chosen from more than 198,700 public school teachers throughout the state. After each school district selects its Teacher of the Year, a selection committee representing teachers, principals, parents and the business community reviews each district application on the basis of outstanding ability to teach and communicate knowledge of the subject taught, professional development, philosophy of teaching, and outstanding school and community service.  

The Florida Teacher of the Year Program is made possible by generous sponsors: Florida Prepaid, State Farm, Florida Blue, Telemundo, Helios Education Foundation, Wells Fargo, Publix, Florida Power and Light Company, Florida Lottery, Gulf Power and Herff Jones.

For more about the Florida Teacher of the Year program, please visit Florida Teachers Lead.

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