Four local teachers who bring more than 97 years of teaching experience combined to the table received one of the country’s highest monetary awards this week.
On Wednesday, respective school principals and Diane Yendol-Hoppey, the dean of the University of North Florida’s College of Education and Human Services, surprised each of the four women as they were teaching. They include:
- Meshellia Hughes, third grade math teacher at Andrew A. Robinson Elementary
- May Hotard, Spanish teacher at Bishop Kenny High School
- Crystal Parker, Advanced Via Individual Determination (AVID) and English teacher at Edward H. White High School
- Sara Henry, reading and language arts teacher at Ruth Upson Elementary
The teachers were named 2022 Gladys Prior Awards for Career Teaching Excellence winners and given $ 15,000 each.
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About the Gladys Prior Awards for Career Teaching Excellence
Established in 1998 by Gilchrist Berg, founder and president of Water Street Capital, the award honors teachers with lifelong careers in education. Berg, who named the award after his fourth-grade teacher at Ortega Elementary School, has given more than $ 2 million to honor Jacksonville teachers, according to a news release.
“The Gladys Prior Awards are a wonderful opportunity to recognize the exceptional teachers in the Jacksonville area who are dedicated to education and making a significant difference and impact with their students,” said Yendol-Hoppey. “We are very appreciative of Gilchrist Berg for his continued commitment to education with these awards.”
UNF’s College of Education & Human Services manages the annual gift and arranges the surprise award for each teacher at their school surrounded by faculty, staff and students.
Nominations were due last month and were comprised of evidence of inspiration to students, teaching excellence and at least 10 years of teaching experience. Teachers in public or private schools across Duval County were eligible.
More about this year’s winners
Each honoree brings something different to Duval Schools.
Hughes was praised for helping students improve test scores and encouraging them to exchange “positive affirmations” with each other.
Hotard was honored for her work teaching students with learning disabilities and her willingness to stay after hours to assist students.
Parker launched Edward White High School’s AVID program and was also recognized for creative programming, like her “Parker’s Parlor,” where students analyze literature on ice cream sundaes.
Henry, from Ruth Upson Elementary, has been teaching for over 22 years. Outside of the classroom, she launched a running club for her students and initiated partnerships between a local nursing home through a pen pal program. She was also lauded for collaborating with a local bookstore to provide her students with more reading materials.
Henry told News4Jax, who attended her ambush award, that she was overwhelmed by the giant check she was presented with.
“I’m amazed and overwhelmed and so excited right now,” she said. with this giant check! ”
Emily Bloch is an education reporter for The Florida Times-Union. Follow her on Twitter or email her. Sign up for her newsletter.