Finalists named for Orange County Teacher of the Year
Five finalists have been chosen from among 194 nominated for the Orange County Public Schools 2018 Teacher of the Year. The winner will be announced in an awards ceremony Dec. 6, at the Rosen Centre starting at 3:30 p.m. The finalists are:
Christina Arenth - Lake Sybelia Elementary
A pre-K teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing, Christina Arenth has more than 30 years of experience and is a Master Teacher for the Learn Together Project, a nationwide network pairing college students with practicing teachers of the deaf. Her classroom lessons focus on growing vocabulary and improving her preschoolers’ social skills that have been impacted by their hearing loss. Parent involvement is crucial, and she strives to keep her connections strong by writing daily personal notes home.
Elizabeth Eskin - Timber Creek High
An award-winning debate teacher and coach, Elizabeth Eskin’s debate students are ranked in the top three percent in the nation by the National Speech and Debate Association. She teaches AP English Literature at Timber Creek High with similar success as she has more than a decade of pass rates that are double-digits above the national average. She directs the school’s AP Choice Program and believes strongly that great teaching is an art form. She says that while there is a science to every art, she stays focused on the art.
Jennifer Gautier - Lake Nona High
Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition teacher and Student Government sponsor Jennifer Gautier started out as an extended day coordinator at Hillcrest Elementary School. She’s developed a leadership program at the school, partnering the theater department with Zebra Coalition, Daily Bread, Relay for Life and Honor Flights, showing her students how to affect change in their community. She was also a key member of the digital roll-out team for her high school. She takes her responsibility to put students first seriously by building meaningful relationships with her students.
Mandi Kraemer - Freedom High
Amanda “Mandi” Kraemer is a dynamic math teacher at Freedom High, but has also taught in Cambodia, Ghana, Tanzania and Zambia. She serves as the math department chair, sponsor for Mu Alpha Theta (national mathematics honor society), and enjoys the effects of a blended learning format because it brings more involvement from the parents. While most of her students will be the first in their family to go to college, her classroom philosophy is “Together, we can move mountains. Or at least generate mathematical models for moving mountains.”
Eric Yuhasz - Howard Middle
Science, Technology, Engineering and Math teacher Eric Yuhasz says, “The biggest recurring theme in my life is my insatiable appetite to learn.” He encourages this appetite in his students, as well. The school’s Project Lead the Way teacher, Yuhasz is also part of the Space Academy for Educators, and works with such industry leaders as Lockheed Martin, NASA, American Geosciences Institute and the Florida Solar Energy Center. In addition, he runs the school’s popular Magic Club. He recently had engineers from NASA’s OSIRIS-REx program as guest speakers in his classroom.
The winner will be the district’s nominee for the 2018 Florida Department of Education/Macy’s Teacher of the Year. Based on nominations from the 2016-17 school year, their Teacher of the Year tenure, if selected, will be for the year 2018. The program recognizes and honors the contributions of outstanding classroom teachers who have demonstrated a superior capacity to inspire a love of learning in students of all backgrounds and abilities.
School celebrates Hispanic cultures
Orlando Science Elementary School recently celebrated Hispanic cultures by hosting a Hispanic Heritage night. At the event, students visited numerous classrooms – each decorated to represent a different country – to enjoy food, music and activities. The school also invited a food truck to provide families with fresh, authentic Hispanic food.
Orange County School Board meeting highlights
The School Board of Orange County held its regularly scheduled board meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 25 at the Ronald Blocker Educational Leadership Center. These are the highlights of the meeting:
Lockhart Middle gets magnet: Magnet programs provide a challenging and stimulating environment for learning that enables students with special talents and interests to gain extraordinary levels of knowledge and skills within highly specialized areas of study. Lockhart Middle School’s Center for the Advancement of Science and Engineering Magnet will provide a rigorous integrated curriculum that focuses on Science, Engineering, and Math. Students will have a selection of science-based electives, combined with a core curriculum that infuses STEM practices of inquiry-based thinking and project-based learning. Students will continue to be a part of an award-winning STEM club and experience a variety of extracurricular activities to strengthen their STEM knowledge. Courses will allow students the unique opportunity to earn high school course credit, earn industry certifications, and develop career readiness skills including drafting, electronics, and project management.
Week of the Family: Orange County Public Schools is participating in the Orange County Week of the Family and will promote events at various venues in which family and community ties are celebrated. The purpose of the Week of the Family is to strengthen family relationships through education, wholesome activities, fitness and community service.
2016 Red Ribbon Certified Schools: During national Red Ribbon Week, Informed Families/The Florida Family Partnership presented five schools with their Red Ribbon Certification. Congratulations Kaley Lake Como Elementary, Eccleston Elementary, Rock Lake Elementary, Arbor Ridge School (K-8), and Freedom Middle.
Student participation in AP exams at all-time high
During the 2015-2016 school year, Orange County Public Schools outpaced national and state averages for the number of Advanced Placement exam takers, number of exams administered and the number of exams in which students scored three or higher. In 2015-16, 35,877 exams were administered taken by 19,973 students. Orange County Public Schools more than doubled and tripled the national averages.