Lights, Cameras, Lesson Plans

What it’s like to be a Florida District Teacher of the Year

I’ve had a lot of questions about what it is like to be a district-level teacher of the year in Florida. There are so many adjectives I could use to describe this wonderful experience, but the one that sticks out to me the most is “unforgettable.”

The day it was announced that I was the FLVS Teacher of the Year was one of the most exciting days of my life. Emails and phone calls poured in with congratulations and well-wishes from people I know and people I have never really met. It felt like I was a celebrity, which can make a person feel a little uncomfortable at first – being rushed to the front and into the spotlight.

Once the initial wow-factor wore off, I figured things would go back to normal…but I was so wrong about that.

The first experience I had was being invited to the inaugural Teacher of the Year Governor’s Summit. This was a chance for all Florida District Teachers of the Year to get together to share best practices, have open dialogue with the Commissioner of Education, and share discussions with Governor Rick Scott. The first night, we were invited to enjoy hors d’oeuvres at the Governor’s Mansion. We met various staff members of the Governor’s office and toured the beautiful and historic mansion. The next day we were able to tour the new and old capital building and learn more about our great state and its history. The highlight of this trip was getting to sit at a roundtable with all the other winners and have a Q&A session with both the Governor and Commissioner of Education. On the last day, we were honored with the 2014 Governor’s Shine Award, which is an award designed to recognize excellence in instruction.

As awesome as all of this was, the biggest and most amazing event was the teacher of the year roundtable event sponsored by the Florida Department of Education, Macy’s, and other organizations. We were able to collaborate with one another, express concern about issues affecting our local schools, and share best practices for improving the student experience. Business partners showed their support by providing great meals and great gifts to help us in our classrooms, but mostly to say thank you for educating our youth. Beyond these awe-inspiring celebrations, we were afforded an opportunity that we teachers desperately long for – to be heard. We asked, they listened, and they responded.

I don’t share all this to brag on what a great experience I had, but instead to show how the state of Florida cares about its teachers and educational system. Often we stay in our instructional silos, focus on the negatives, and don’t realize the incredible amount of support and protection we get from our educational administrators. Take a moment and be grateful that we live in a state that strives to recognize its teachers and continuously works to improve the quality of our education system.

Post by Shawn Wigg, Former Lead Teacher and 2014 FLVS Teacher of the Year

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