INK! to honor teachers who 'bring out the brilliance' in St. Johns County students

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Second-grade teacher Victoria Fuata of Cunningham Creek Elementary School is one of the five finalists selected by INK! for its Teacher of the Year awards. The winning Teacher of the Year and Rookie Teacher of the Year will be announced on Jan. 20 at World Golf Village Renaissance St. Augustine Resort.
Second-grade teacher Victoria Fuata of Cunningham Creek Elementary School is one of the five finalists selected by INK! for its Teacher of the Year awards. The winning Teacher of the Year and Rookie Teacher of the Year will be announced on Jan. 20 at World Golf Village Renaissance St. Augustine Resort.

INK! (Investing in Kids), the direct support organization benefiting St. Johns County School District, has announced the five finalists for the 2021-2022 Teacher of the Year award. The finalists were notified in a countywide “Prize Patrol” visit to each of their schools.

INK! promotes academic success for all St. Johns County public school students through innovative programs, classroom grants and teacher support initiatives. The annual Teacher of the Year celebration is a special recognition program to honor educators in the county. The teachers were nominated by their peers from every school in St. Johns County.

St. Johns County School District Superintendent Tim Forson (left) is pictured with finalist Andrew Burk, band director at Valley Ridge Academy.
St. Johns County School District Superintendent Tim Forson (left) is pictured with finalist Andrew Burk, band director at Valley Ridge Academy.

On Thursday, Jan. 20, INK! board members, staff and volunteers along with St. Johns County School District Superintendent Tim Forson and officials will recognize veteran and rookie teachers during an event to announce the winning Teacher of the Year and Rookie Teacher of the Year.

Nominees will also be in attendance for their outstanding demonstration of instructional skills, student interaction, professional excellence and importance in the lives of hundreds of students. The recognition will begin at 5:30 p.m. with a banquet and program at World Golf Village Renaissance St. Augustine Resort, 500 S. Legacy Trail in St. Augustine.

Donna Lueders, executive director of INK! (left) made a surprise visit to Sharon Warwell-Murden of R.B. Hunt Elementary School. The fifth-grade teacher is one of five finalists in INK!'s Teacher of the Year awards.
Donna Lueders, executive director of INK! (left) made a surprise visit to Sharon Warwell-Murden of R.B. Hunt Elementary School. The fifth-grade teacher is one of five finalists in INK!'s Teacher of the Year awards.

Teacher of the Year finalists include Andrew Burk, band director at Valley Ridge Academy; Veronica Fuata, second-grade teacher at Cunningham Creek Elementary School; Robie Hagan, instructional literacy coach at Wards Creek Elementary School; Patricia McElhone, academic interventionist at St. Johns Virtual School; and Sharon Warwell-Murden, fifth-grade teacher at R.B. Hunt Elementary School.

The countywide awards program will commemorate recipients as local scholastic leaders who help to build community awareness of the region’s best educators.

Finalist Robie Hagan, instructional literacy coach at Wards Creek Elementary School.
Finalist Robie Hagan, instructional literacy coach at Wards Creek Elementary School.

All finalists were honored during last month's surprise visits by school officials and 2020-2021 St. Johns County Teacher of the Year, Ali Pressel from Creekside High School. Visits also included program sponsors and supporters who provided flowers, applause and accolades at each school with school principals, staff members and students.

The educator named as Teacher of the Year 2021-2022 will have an opportunity to apply for the Florida Teacher of the Year program and receive various awards, including a new car from Beaver Toyota St. Augustine.

Beaver Toyota St. Augustine mascot Bucky the Beaver was on hand for the "prize patrol" announcing the finalists. Pictured are Donna Lueders, INK! executive director (from left); Bucky; Patricia McElhone, St. Johns Virtual School; Ryan Erskine, school principal; and St. Johns County School District Superintendent Tim Forson.
Beaver Toyota St. Augustine mascot Bucky the Beaver was on hand for the "prize patrol" announcing the finalists. Pictured are Donna Lueders, INK! executive director (from left); Bucky; Patricia McElhone, St. Johns Virtual School; Ryan Erskine, school principal; and St. Johns County School District Superintendent Tim Forson.

“We invite the community to be a part of the honors by supporting INK!'s annual Teacher of the Year celebration. This year highlights our teachers who bring out the brilliance in students,” said Donna Lueders, INK!’s executive director. “During the event, we will recognize and revere the contributions of outstanding classroom teachers who are dedicated and contribute to the future of our children.”

Sponsorships are still available with a variety of benefits that include reserved tables and guest tickets, name and brand recognition, signage, program opportunities and more, starting at $375. For complete details, call (904) 547-7120 or email Donna.Lueders@stjohns.k12.fl.us.

Learn more at INK-StJohns.org.

This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: INK! to honor teachers who 'bring out the brilliance' in students

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