ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – A St. Johns County teacher is a top five finalist for the 2015 Florida Teacher of the Year award.
Daryl Cullipher teaches at St. Augustine High School. She teaches several classes, including Teaching Prep 4, English 2 Honors, Composition 1 and Composition 2. Her goal is to get students career ready and challenge them so they'll be successful.
"These guys are future teachers. These guys are the future of your children's education. They're the ones who will be inspiring your child," said Cullipher.
Cullipher uses a lot of technology in the classroom, which is something the students really enjoy.
"I believe she's meeting us on our level since it's the technology era where technology is in big use between younger kids," said sophomore Matthew Izzo.
Cullipher was awarded Teacher of the Year for St. Johns County. She's now a top five finalist for the state award. Her students were there when she learned the news and everyone was emotional.
"We were all crying. We were all crying. Every step of the way that I have won something or gotten an award for anything, every step of the way, they feel like they win too," said Cullipher.
She said she loves seeing students want to inspire others and pass on their knowledge.
"We make every profession possible. You have a good doctor? It's because you had a good teacher. You have a good dentist? It's because he or she had a good teacher. You have a good teacher because they had a good teacher," Cullipher said.
Cullipher graduated from St. Augustine High School in 1999 and knew she always wanted to work there.
"The opportunity for former students to come and give back as a teacher is powerful. We have many teachers and faculty members on our campus who are former Yellow Jackets and that's a very special thing," said Cathy Mittelstadt, principal of St. Augustine High.
Students said Cullipher also teaches them life lessons in the classroom.
"She'll never give you the answer, you always have to do it yourself. That's a really good thing because you don't just get things handed to you in life, you have to work for them," said sophomore Jessalynn Glasscock.
The Florida Teacher of the Year will be named at a gala event in July. The top teacher will serve for one year as the Christa McAuliffe Ambassador for Education representing the Department of Education and teachers throughout the state.
The Teacher of the Year may conduct workshops, address fellow teachers, parents, and business and community leaders at conferences and meetings, and talk to student groups about careers in education.
He or she will also receive a $10,000 grant funded by the Macy's Foundation.