Staff Report

From coaching students in vital literacy knowledge to preparing them for realworld success with training in 21st century skills, five standout teachers are finalists for the Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) Teacher of the Year.

Three elementary school teachers and two high school teachers, with more than 80 years combined classroom experience, are vying for the coveted award.

The BCPS Teacher of the Year will be named at the 2018 Caliber Awards Ceremony, recognizing the District’s outstanding teachers, principals, assistant principals and school-related/District employees.

The ceremony takes place on Feb. 1, at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center.

The BCPS Teacher of the Year Finalists are:

Stacey Brown, a 25-year veteran teacher, serves as a school leader to coaching, mentoring and supporting classroom teachers in literacy and mathematics. “If I could share one message with all teachers, it would be ‘it’s not the product, it’s the process,’ ” said Brown. “Education is not about the program the teacher buys, it’s about the process and knowledge the teacher develops.” Principal Marisa Fishlock praised Brown as “a one-of-akind, talented, dedicated educator with a passion for literacy and children.”

Diana Escobar, a 19-year teaching veteran, serves as the literacy coach at Coral Cove Elementary School.

“By changing the way you look at things, the things you look at change,”

said Escobar. “By keeping up with change, I’ve been able to find the positive in the negative to motivate and shape the future of tomorrow, so they, too, can find the positive in the negative.” Principal Stephanie Saban calls Escobar “a master educator and a consummate professional. She is an integral and brilliant part of Coral Cove Elementary School’s success.”

Tammy Freeman has spent all of her 10 years as an educator at Monarch High School, where she is currently a language arts instructor. “Instead of giving my students the answers and having them become dependent on me for providing the answers each time, I choose to empower them by teaching them the process, which will help them to become better thinkers and learners throughout their lifetime,” said Freeman. “Ms. Freeman is sincere, loyal, dedicated and willing to work at any task she is assigned, which positively affects her performance working with all stakeholders,” said Principal James Neer. “She is a tremendous asset to Monarch High.”

Helen Kassim has been teaching for seven years, and is currently a first grade reading resource instructor at Sunland Park Academy. “Teaching is a craft and a gift. It provides opportunities to develop the minds of others and to help them reach their full potential,” said Kassim.

Principal Sharonda Bailey said, “Ms. Kassim provides fresh insight to any area of concern, as well as offers new ideas to improve instruction and school operation processes. She maintains a pleasant demeanor and positive attitude.”

Frank Pizzo has spent the last 17 of his 20 years in education at Deerfield Beach High School, where he is the lead teacher in the Academy of Finance. “Teaching is un-equivalently the very best occupation anyone could ever have – ‘I’m a teacher, what is your superpower?’ No other occupation in the world can make such an impact in someone else’s life,” said Pizzo.

“Mr. Pizzo has worked diligently in his classes and has been a good role model for our students,” said Principal Jon Marlow. “He has always gone above and beyond in all of his responsibilities.”

The Caliber Awards presenting sponsor is BrightStar Credit Union. Also supporting the Caliber Awards are platinum sponsors Aetna and Bank of America; silver sponsors After School Programs, Inc. (ASP), Broward Principals’ and Assistants’ Association (BPAA), Nova Southeastern University – Abraham S. Fischler School of Education, Office Depot, Pearson, PNC Bank and Sunshine Child Programs; and bronze sponsors CEI Staffing, The Corradino Group, Herff Jones and Spectrum Tours.

The Broward Education Foundation and Toyota of North Miami will provide a 2018 Toyota Camry SE to the 2018 Caliber Awards Teacher of the Year.