ORLANDO - Florida's Teacher of the Year is set to be named in Orlando Thursday night.
The five finalists were chosen in May from 72 school district nominees: English teacher Nancy Smith of Citrus High School in Citrus County; reading teacher Apryl Shackelford of Northwestern Middle School in Duval County; English, theater history and dance teacher Patricia Gair of Cypress Lake High School in Lee County; ESOL language arts teacher Dorina Sackman of Westridge Middle School in Orange County; and marine science teacher Katrin Rudge of Riverview High School in Sarasota County.
Gov. Rick Scott, who is scheduled to attend the ceremony at Hard Rock Live at Universal Studios, said Florida is making great strides to enhance the quality of education.
"Florida teachers earned the top score in the U.S. for teacher quality, and Florida students lead all other mega-states in achievement gains in 4th- 8th-grade reading and math," Scott said. "These achievements are a direct reflection of the hard work and dedication our teachers demonstrate on a daily basis."
The ceremony is hosted by the Florida Department of Education and Macy's.
The Teacher of the Year will receive a $10,000 grant funded by the Macy's Foundation, along with an all-expense paid trip for four to New York City to attend the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. The winner will also serve for one year as the Christa McAuliffe Ambassador for Education, touring the state to spread the word about educational opportunities and challenges in the Sunshine State.
During the event, the remaining 67 nominees from around the state will be recognized and presented with a $750 personal cash award and a $250 grant for their school, funded by the Macy's Foundation.
"I have been inspired by the talent and innovative learning strategies Florida's District Teachers of the Year bring to the classroom," Florida Commissioner of Education Tony Bennett said in the release. "They represent the best teachers in the nation and will be a valuable resource for me as I solicit their opinions with the shared goal of preparing our students for a bright future."
This year's finalists were chosen from more than 189,000 public school teachers by a Department of Education-appointed selection committee consisting of teachers, principals, parents and the business community.