[UPDATE 2-21-11 at 4:41pm by Jill Chandler
Leon County Schools names the Teacher of the Year for 2011. Erica Sears is a history teacher at Godby High School. As she walked through the doors today, she was surprised by a congratulations from Jackie Pons.
While shocked by the surprise, Sears was humble about receiving it. "It means a lot for our school. It's really, really important for our school. We had a really hard year last year making an F by the Florida Accountability system. This year we scored enough points for an A and our school. We absolutely need this...this positive attention," said Sears.
Sears was also greeted by her family. She says she couldn't believe everyone kept her winning a secret.
Superintendent Jackie Pons surprised Mrs. Erica Sears during the lunch hour at Godby High School by informing her that she has been named the 2011Teacher of the Year.
“Erica is representative of the outstanding teachers we have in Leon County,” said Superintendent Pons. “I am proud to stand here with Mrs. Sears and to recognize her for going above and beyond for her students every day.”
Mrs. Sears is a ten year veteran of Leon County Schools, currently teaching History at Godby High School. Among her outstanding achievements is the creation of an Academy of Finance tax program which helps members of the community complete their individual income taxes. Last year, they completed more than 100 tax returns. She is a true leader and excellent example for her peers.
“As leaders know, being a leader isn’t always popular, and Erica is a true leader, “said Godby Principal Jean Ferguson. “Erica is not afraid to change or take a stand with her peers for what she feels is right for our students. She is part of the fabric of our school and helped lead us to achieving our B grade.”
“The idea that all people deserve a quality education is the keystone of my educational beliefs and what drives me every day,” Mrs. Sears wrote in her application. “I will stop at nothing to get my students to be successful in high school and in life.”
Mrs. Sears was selected by a committee representative of past Teacher of the Year winners, district administrators, community members, a Leon Classroom Teachers Association representative and a School Board representative. The committee conducts a blind review of each application to identify finalists; interviews are then conducted to select the winner. The interviews include questions and criteria established by the state TOY program, and all committee members score and vote to determine the winner. Mrs. Sears will now compete in the statewide Teacher of the Year Program.
**The other district finalists were:
Brian Lassiter, Astoria Park Elementary School
Jeannine Meis, Cobb Middle School
Barney Myers, Chiles High School
Tommy Thompson, Deerlake Middle School