john_l_winn.jpgFlorida’s top teacher will be selected from among five finalists, including a Miramar High music teacher, on July 7. The selection for the 2012 Macy’s/Florida Department of Education Teacher of the Year will be announced at the Hard Rock Live at Universal Studios in Orlando.

The finalists include Alvin A. Davis, ninth through 12th grade Music Education teacher at Miramar High School in Broward County.

The others are Lora McCalister-Cruel, ninth through 12th grade Literacy coach at A. Crawford Mosley High School in Bay County; Belinda Nease, Pre-Kindergarten Exceptional Student Education teacher at Southside Elementary School in Nassau County; Stephanie Thetford,  10th through 12th grade Math teacher at Fort Walton Beach High School in Okaloosa County; and Tracy Staley, fifth grade Science and Writing teacher at Ponce de Leon Elementary School in Pinellas County.

This year’s finalists were chosen from more than 180,000 public school teachers throughout the state by a Department of Education-appointed selection committee representing teachers, principals, parents and the business community.

Each finalist is selected 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 must also show a superior capacity to inspire a love of learning in students of all backgrounds and abilities.

“Florida’s public school teachers are among our brightest stars and, as we’ve done for the past 23 years, we applaud their commitment to students and our communities during this spectacular gala ceremony,” said Macy’s senior vice president and regional director of stores, Karin Darmanin.  “This remarkable event is an opportunity to honor the individuals who give of themselves selflessly with an unsurpassed commitment to reaching their students and leading them toward a better future.”

Florida Education Commissioner John L. Winn added that teachers “have a unique power to help our children rise even above their own expectations and achieve at levels they never dreamed possible.”

“That distinctive ability is what makes this year’s Teacher of the Year theme, ‘Reach for the Stars,’ so important,” Winn said. “It encapsulates the power of high quality instruction and the belief that all students can excel. I commend our five finalists, our district finalists, and all of Florida’s hard working teachers for the excellent job they do on behalf of their students.”  

Macy’s will sponsor and produce the awards ceremony for the 23rd year.  During the event, the remaining 67 nominees from around the state will be recognized for their achievements and excellence in teaching.  Each nominee will receive a check for $750 and a grant of $250 will go to each of their schools, all funded by the Macy’s Foundation.
In addition to a $10,000 grant funded by the Macy’s Foundation, the Teacher of the Year will receive awards from Macy’s including an all-expenses-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.

To date, Macy’s and the Macy’s Foundation have contributed more than $2 million to teachers throughout the state.