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5 finalists named for Duval County's top teacher

2017 Florida Blue Duval County Teacher of Year to be awarded next month

Latrece Brown named Duval County teacher of the year finalist.
Latrece Brown named Duval County teacher of the year finalist.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A committee of educators, community members and business leaders has named the five 2017 Florida Blue Duval County Teacher of the Year:

Allison Bear, J. Allen Axson Montessori School
Michael Bostic-Jones, William H. Raines High School
Latrece Brown, Andrew Robinson Elementary
Holly Hultgren, Frank H. Peterson Academies of Technology
Caitlyn Stetson, Reynolds Lane Elementary

The teachers were surprised Friday in their classrooms with a prize patrol that included Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Nikolai P. Vitti, Jacksonville Public Education Fund President Trey Csar and DJ the Dog, the Duval County Public Schools mascot.

“It is an honor to spend the day with these amazing educators,” Csar said. “The Teacher of the Year program gives the community a glimpse into our city’s schools. What are teachers doing? How are they improving the lives of our children? And how can we, as a community, live up to our shared responsibility to our children and our city by coming together to support everything these educators do?”

The EDDY Awards, an initiative of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund, have evolved over the last few years into a yearlong initiative to build a network of exemplary teachers who are leaders in the community and who work to improve our schools, accelerate student achievement and elevate the teaching profession.

READ: Bios of all 15 semi-finalists for Duval County Teacher of the Year

“Teachers are without a doubt the backbone of this school district,” Vitti said. "Their dedication and perseverance (are) in many ways unmatched, yet, so few will ever receive public recognition. To be able to honor these five teachers before their students, and the entire community is not only humbling, but it also serves as a great reminder of the raw talent and passion our educators possess. I feel nothing but pride and gratitude for their tireless efforts to educate our children day in and day out, and would be honored to name any of these finalists as our next Teacher of the Year.”

All five finalists will be on stage Feb. 24 at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront for the 26th annual EDDY Awards, where one will be named Teacher of Year. The event will be emceed by retired Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Rashean Mathis and a Duval County Public Schools student. Tickets are available at eddyawardsjax.org.