FLVS Announces Teachers & Staff of the Year
Bringing online learning to life is a team effort. We are excited to recognize the following faculty and staff for their hard work and dedication.
Melissa Martin was selected as the 2021 FLVS Teacher of the Year from more than 1,700 instructors. Martin, an FLVS Full Time Middle School math teacher, has a passion for helping each of her students not only to succeed in math, but to enjoy it as well. She combines her math lessons with age-appropriate pop-culture music, television shows, or games in order to pique the interest of her students. Her instructional techniques keep her students engaged, reduce their math anxiety, and help them relate math formulas to things they already know and enjoy. Martin, who has been with FLVS for nearly four years, also serves as Team Leader and Content Leader in her subject area.
“I am incredibly honored to represent Florida Virtual School as the 2021 Teacher of the Year. It is a privilege to serve our amazing students and their families each day,” said Martin. “I am so thankful to be surrounded by the most dedicated and hardworking educators in Florida. Their passion and enthusiasm to serve our families inspires me to be a better teacher.”
Jessica Smith, a 15-year veteran of the education industry, is the FLVS Full Time Middle School principal. Through her enthusiasm for education, her outstanding leadership qualities and her commitment to meeting every child’s individual needs, Smith cultivates a culture of success and positivity for her team as well as for FLVS students and parents. Under her leadership, the FLVS Full Time Middle School received their first school grade, earning an “A” for the 2018-19 school year.
“To represent Florida Virtual School as our Principal of the Year is a true honor. Within our district, I have worked alongside exceptional educators and leaders,” said Smith. “Together we have had the great opportunity to serve the entire state of Florida and beyond. We have the unique ability to reach students without barriers; time, space, distance, none of it stands in our way. We’ve bridged a world of virtual superhighways between educators and students across the state, and I am proud to represent such a powerful school district, full of talented educators and leaders, who always keep the student at the center of every decision we make.”
Wilbern Simpson, the assistant principal for FLVS Full Time High School, demonstrates the qualities of teamwork and leadership by pioneering programs, techniques, and strategies that help students overcome obstacles to reach their full learning potential. He implemented and developed a virtual Response to Intervention and Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) schoolwide framework to support struggling learners. As a result, the MTSS became a team function and not a process, providing students and families the additional learning support they needed to succeed.
“I work with an amazing group of people who make it their daily mission to impact students and to help those students meet their academic goals,” said Simpson. “I am humbled by my colleagues’ recognition and grateful for the team that I support. Together, we are changing the world at Florida Virtual School…one student at a time!”
Alicia Slater, a Curriculum Specialist for FLVS, works diligently to enhance the learning opportunities for students in grades Kindergarten-5, through the development of content for the Elementary Specials courses of Computer Science, Art, and PE. She thinks outside the box to use appealing topics and methodologies that maintain student interests while they learn the required material.
“Being recognized as Florida Virtual School’s 2020 School-Related Employee of the Year is an amazing honor, and I’m so grateful to be representing Florida Virtual School,” said Slater. “Over the past 11 years, no matter which team I am working with, one thing has always remained constant: students are truly at the center of every decision we make. My team members continuously inspire me to do better, learn more, and think outside of the box. The students I’ve had the privilege of serving have reminded me to meet each one of them where they are and that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to learning.”
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.