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Clay County Educator Named 2023 Florida Teacher of the Year Finalist

May 19, 2022

FDOE Press Office

Clay County Educator Named 2023 Florida Teacher of the Year Finalist

~ Lakeside Junior High School’s Melissa Anne Matz is one of five finalists for the top award ~ 

Tallahassee, Fla., May 19, 2022 – Today, the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) named Melissa Anne Matz, a seventh-grade math teacher at Lakeside Junior High School in Clay County, as a finalist for the 2023 Florida Teacher of the Year award. The announcement came during a surprise visit to Lakeside Junior High School, with Deputy Chancellor for Educator Quality Dr. Paul Burns imparting the honor. The Florida Teacher of the Year program recognizes excellence in teaching and celebrates outstanding professional educators in schools across the state. The 2023 Florida Teacher of the Year winner will be announced on July 14 in Orlando.

“My congratulations to Melissa Matz on being named one of five Florida Teacher of the Year finalists,” said Incoming Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr. “As a former teacher, I know the impact that committed educators have on students. Your commitment to teaching math is inspiring.”

“Melissa Matz’s students see firsthand that the skills they acquire in her classroom can be applied to a broad spectrum of fields, and therefore, they can become well-rounded members of our community,” said Clay County Superintendent of Schools David Broskie. 

“She works tirelessly to help establish a prepared environment and offers a supportive and caring attitude which motivates her students to give full effort without fear of failing,” said Rodney Ivey, principal of Lakeside Junior High School.

Melissa Matz has served as the Lakeside Junior High School Math Department Head and leadership team member since 2015. She is the chairperson for the Lakeside’s School Advisory Committee, a cooperating teacher for college interns, and a school representative for district curriculum-map writing. Ms. Matz maintains that building rapport with each of her students is an essential step in the process of teaching math. She makes it a point to speak with each student as they enter her classroom, and she takes the approach that stepping outside of one’s comfort zone and taking positive risks is how extraordinary gains are achieved.

Five finalists were chosen for 2023 Teacher of the Year from nearly 185,000 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 winner will serve for one year as the Christa McAuliffe Ambassador for Education.

In partnership with the Florida Education Foundation, the Florida Teacher of the Year program is made possible by these generous sponsors: Florida Prepaid College Savings Plans, State Farm Insurance, Florida State University College of Education, Helios Education Foundation, Florida Blue Foundation, Florida Education Association, Herff Jones, Publix Super Market Charities, PNC Bank and Florida Power & Light Company.

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

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