Five Teachers in Final Round for Teacher of the Year Honor. Winner to be announced at December awards ceremony.
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, 2016, 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 theatre 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 (STEM) 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.