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Manatee and Sarasota County teachers named as finalists for 2023 Florida Teacher of the Year

The award acknowledges excellence in teaching and puts a spotlight on professional educators in Florida schools.
Credit: Manatee and Sarasota County Schools

SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. — Samoset Elementary School teacher Deelah Jackson and Sarasota Middle School teacher Jennifer Jaso were selected as finalists for the 2023 Florida Teacher of the Year by the Florida Department of Education.

Both Jaso and Jackson received the news in a surprise visit from Deputy Chancellor for Educator Quality Dr. Paul Burns on Wednesday at their respective schools.

“My congratulations to Jennifer Jaso for your selection as a 2023 Florida Teacher of the Year finalist,” said Incoming Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr. “Your many accomplishments are commendable, and your classroom instruction is an outstanding representation of high-quality education in our state.”

The award acknowledges excellence in teaching and puts a spotlight on professional educators in Florida schools.

“Deelah Jackson is a tremendous example of service and commitment. She’s an exemplary educator,” said Diaz. “Congratulations for your selection as a 2023 Florida Teacher of the Year finalist.”

Jaso, a sixth-grade social studies teacher, is known at the middle school for building relationships with students by expanding their critical thinking skills and subject comprehension, Sarasota County Schools wrote in a news release.

“There are few who match Jennifer’s content-knowledge expertise, her innate passion for her craft, and her love of, and commitment to, working to educate and improve the lives of children from every background,” said Jennifer Nzeza, principal of Sarasota Middle School.

As for Jackson, officials at the Manatee County elementary school describe her as a teacher who engages her students with high-quality lesson plans that include singing and movement so students can remember the subjects when they go home.

“Deelah chooses to be in the classroom. It is her calling, and it is where she gets her energy. She is at school many days from sun-up to sun-down working with and for students,” said Maribeth Mason, principal of Samoset Elementary School.

Both are involved in leadership roles, with Jaso being a longtime presenter at the Florida Council for the Social Studies Conference and Jackson being on an advisory council at Samoset Elementary School. 

Out of approximately 185,000 public school teachers in the Sunshine State, Jaso and Jackson were named the five finalists for the award. 

A selection committee that represents principals, teachers and parents will choose the winner on July 14 in Orlando. The winner will also be rewarded with serving the Christa McAuliffe Ambassador for Education for one year. 

To learn more, click here.  

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