A Round of Applause For The 2022-23 Florida Virtual School Team Members of the Year!
It takes a dedicated, passionate, and supportive team to serve thousands of students across Florida and the country virtually. Every day, our exceptional teachers and support staff commit to putting students at the center of every decision, inspiring them to achieve their dreams. That is why we are thrilled to recognize and honor their accomplishments with our annual awards.
Read on to see how this year’s honorees are innovating in the online learning environment and putting the needs of our students and team members first.
2024 Teacher of the Year: Melissa Kelly
As an Instructional Strategies Coach at Florida Virtual School (FLVS), Ms. Melissa Kelly provides teachers with techniques and support to learn and reflect on their practices using a student-centered focus. Ms. Kelly feels most inspired when she helps teachers gain confidence and integrate innovative strategies in the classroom, with her ultimate goal resulting in students and the teachers becoming life-long learners.
Ms. Kelly introduced the “Teach like a Champion” initiative, a set of techniques to help FLVS teachers instruct while instilling a growth mindset in students. She developed school-wide sessions to share these techniques with teachers so that they could build them into their live lessons and use them with their students. According to a pre-planning survey, 72% of teachers were unfamiliar with these techniques. However, by the end, more than 95% of FLVS teachers reported using more than one in their live lessons.
“This year, I have created resources to support these teachers as well as future teachers who join our school,” said Ms. Kelly. “I am quite proud of the way teachers have embraced these techniques. In fact, one of my favorite compliments was when a teacher told me that she finally felt like she was being taught how to teach.”
2023 Support Person of the Year: Breanne Guzman
In her role as Customer Care Support Specialist, Mrs. Breanne Guzman stays student-centered in her efforts. From guiding families through the application process, to working with third-party vendors to ensure proper training techniques are being used, to meeting our customer care needs, Mrs. Guzman always pushes for excellence.
“As a parent of a special needs individual, I understand that each student and their stories vary greatly and what works for one child may not work well for another child,” said Mrs. Guzman. “Outside the box thinking is how innovation occurs. I take that approach with many tasks at FLVS.”
In addition to her role in Customer Care, Mrs. Guzman was selected to take part in the first FLVS “Think Tank” hosted by the Research and Development Team, meant to identify potential areas of improvement in the organization and create initiatives to proactively target those areas.
2023 Principal of the Year: Daniele Shick
For FLVS Full Time Principal Ms. Daniele Shick, FLVS is a place where teachers and students remain connected despite unplanned events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic or hurricanes. It’s a place where collaboration and innovation lead both students and teachers to success.
Throughout her six years at FLVS, Ms. Shick has led her team in helping students find their pathways to success by developing virtual connections with students and families from across the state. By implementing the “Collaboration Cafe” initiative, a weekly lunch allowing teachers to share and discuss best practices, FLVS teachers work together to identify methods to further engage their students and families in the learning process.
Ms. Shick has continuously gone above and beyond to ensure student success. By using a homeroom system to monitor student progress weekly and provide support to those falling behind, Ms. Shick and her team saw an increase in student engagement. Within the first year, the Florida Virtual School Full Time High School increased the percentage of students working consistently and the overall course passing rate from 95.9% in 2019-20 to 98.1% in 2020-21. Additionally, in the 2021-22 school year, there was an added 0.3% increase due to the continued implementation.
2023 Assistant Principal of the Year: Ryan Foster
Mr. Ryan Foster plays a vital role for his team, whether working with students in small groups or leading teachers in professional development. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, enrollment numbers in the FLVS Full Time Elementary School nearly quadrupled during the summer of 2020. To serve 4,000 more students, Mr. Foster onboarded more than 100 instructors who were new to virtual education.
Additionally, Mr. Foster is dedicated to mentoring teachers and building strong relationships by meeting with teachers weekly to assess school needs, ensure those needs are being met, and providing feedback. He consistently gives advice while fostering the development of personal leadership skills with those he mentors.
The Florida Department of Education celebrates thousands of outstanding professional educators and support personnel in Florida and the contributions they make to schools and districts. Learn more about the Teacher of Year program and related initiatives through the Florida Department of Education.