ORLANDO, Fla - Concluding a night filled with joyful tears, contagious laughter and heartfelt celebration for all of Florida’s hard working teachers, Cheryl Conley, a fourth grade General Education Teacher at Osceola Magnet Elementary School in Indian River County was named as the Florida Department of Education/Macy’s 2011 Teacher of the Year. Ms. Conley received the honor for her tremendous dedication to her students, her goal-oriented teaching style and her proven ability to inspire them beyond their own expectations.
“Energy, commitment, talent, and innovation are but a few of the many defining characteristics of Florida’s newest Teacher of the Year, Cheryl Conley,” said Education Commissioner Dr. Eric J. Smith. “Cheryl’s service will prove to be an incredible source of inspiration for our hard working teachers as she travels the state and shares her accomplishments and experiences with her peers.”
Ms. Conley will serve for one year as the Christa McAuliffe Ambassador for education, visiting schools throughout the state to share information on educational opportunities and challenges in Florida. She will receive a cash prize of $10,000 from Macy's, a customized trophy and an all-expenses paid trip to New York City for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.
Macy's will also award each of the other four finalists — Allan Phipps, South Plantation High School, Broward County; Zachary Champagne, Mandarin Oaks Elementary School, Duval County; Cristine O’Hara, Palmetto Middle School, Miami-Dade County; Kelly Burnette, Yulee High School, Nassau County — a $5,000 check and a $500 Macy's gift card. Macy's also presented $1,000 to each of the finalists' respective schools to be used toward educational programs.
“Teachers are on the front line every day, introducing young minds to the world and shaping them into the leaders and great thinkers of tomorrow,” said Karin Darmanin, Macy’s Senior Vice President and Regional Director of Stores. “Macy’s is honored to take this opportunity today to thank Cheryl Conley for dedicating herself wholeheartedly to enlightening and empowering her students toward a brighter future.”
The Florida Department of Education/Macy's Teacher of the Year is chosen from district nominees who represent more than 180,000 public school teachers by a selection committee comprised of teachers, principals, parents, and the business community. Florida's top educator is selected on the basis of his or her outstanding ability to teach and communicate knowledge of the subject taught, professional development, philosophy of teaching, and exceptional 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.