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Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr. Names 2024 Florida Teacher of the Year

July 20, 2023

FDOE Press Office

Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr. Names 2024 Florida Teacher of the Year

~ Adrianna Swearingen was selected from nearly 185,000 public school teachers to serve as Florida’s Christa McAuliffe Ambassador for Education ~

Tallahassee, Fla., July 20, 2023 – Tonight, Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr. named Adrianna Swearingen, a media specialist from Bay County, as the 2024 Florida Teacher of the Year. This esteemed recognition highlights the exceptional dedication and outstanding achievements of Swearingen in the field of education. The Florida Teacher of the Year program recognizes outstanding educators in the state and celebrates their achievements.

“With Adrianna’s remarkable dedication, innovation and commitment to student success, she has set an exemplary standard for educators statewide,” said Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz, Jr. “Adrianna embodies the qualities of an exceptional teacher and serves as an inspiration to fellow educators and students alike.”

“Congratulations to our 2024 Teacher of the Year, Adrianna Swearingen. It is great educators like Adrianna that make Florida the Education State. Her passion and dedication in her profession is helping shape our next generation of leaders,” said Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez. “I also want to extend my congratulations to the other finalists for their commitment and for going above and beyond for their students.”

While serving as an educator for the past seven years, Swearingen has focused on developing her students into the next generation of leaders. As a media specialist, Swearingen facilitates student-run morning broadcasts and pioneers the Accelerated Reader Program, cultivating an environment of confidence in her students. When not in the classroom, she volunteers her time to the Northside Elementary Technology Club, Lego Club and Yearbook Committee. Transitioning from a classroom teacher to a media specialist in 2021, Swearingen was a key factor in Northside Elementary’s overall school grade increasing by 12 percentage points.

Thanks to Governor Ron DeSantis’ leadership, Adrianna Swearingen, as this year’s Teacher of the Year recipient, will receive a $50,000 award from the state of Florida. Swearingen will also serve as the Christa McAuliffe Ambassador for Education for one year, advocating for students and representing Florida’s remarkable teaching community. In addition, Swearingen will receive a tuition waiver to pursue a graduate degree from the Florida State University College of Education and a two-year Florida College scholarship from the Florida Prepaid College Savings Plan to present to a student of her choice.

The five Teacher of the Year finalists will each receive a $20,000 bonus. All finalists have demonstrated a deep passion for teaching and have made a significant impact in their respective classrooms and school communities. Their commitment to nurturing young minds and inspiring fellow educators has set them apart as exemplary role models for both students and teachers.

In addition to the Teacher of the Year announcement, the Teacher of the Year Special Awards honor an elite group of educators who make Florida’s education system truly exceptional and number one in the nation. The awards and recipients are below:

Ron Nieto “Digital Educator” Award

Recipient: Timothy Ferguson, Garden Elementary School, Sarasota County

The Ron Nieto Digital Educator award recognizes extraordinary educators who use digital components to enhance student achievement in the classroom. Congratulations to our winner, Timothy Ferguson, a music teacher who consistently uses technology in his classroom to enhance student engagement. Ferguson holds degrees in Music Education and Information Design and Technology.

Outstanding Teacher Leader Award

Recipient: Steven McGinley, Harns Marsh Middle School, Lee County

The Outstanding Teacher Leader Award honors the legacy of exceptional educators and teacher leaders. This year’s honoree is Steven McGinley, a civics and science teacher as well as the team lead, department chair and academic coach for his school. McGinley is a lifelong learner dedicated to helping students achieve success.

Mary J. Brogan “Excellence in Teaching” Award

Recipient: Vonda Morris, Spruce Creek High School, Volusia County

Vonda Morris is this year’s recipient of the Mary J. Brogan Excellence in Teaching award. This award is presented to a district teacher of the year who instills a passion for learning in their students. Morris teaches all levels of high school mathematics and is a strong advocate for continual education. Morris brings invaluable knowledge and commitment to her community by mentoring future teachers.

Liz Moya “Life Skills and Citizenship” Award

Recipient: Shelly Hinojosa, South Walton High School, Walton County

In memory of Liza Moya, the Life Skills and Citizenship award is dedicated to an educator who focuses on teaching critical thinking and civic responsibility to their students, making sure they are well prepared for the future. Shelly Hinojosa was selected as the inaugural recipient of the Liz Moya Life Skills and Citizenship Award for her ability to help her students become civically engaged citizens. Hinojosa serves as the Educational Media Specialist, professional learning facilitator and yearbook teacher at her high school.

Consortium of Florida Education Foundations' "Invested in Excellence" Award

Recipient: Anna Babcock, Fairlawn Elementary School, St. Lucie County

The Consortium of Florida Education Foundations Invested in Excellence Award is presented to a teacher who has a tremendous impact on the lives of their students, their school and their community. This year’s recipient, Anna Babcock, strives to provide opportunities for her students to become problem-solvers and develop skills for their future careers. Babcock, an elementary gifted teacher, goes above and beyond to help students gain real world experience, from promoting STEM labs to partnering with Daughters of the American Revolution. Babcock embodies someone who has a lasting impact on her students.

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, Helios Education Foundation, Sunshine Health, Florida State University College of Education, Florida Lottery, Florida Power & Light, Herff Jones, Publix Super Markets Charities, and PNC Bank.

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