ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – Creekside High School educator Alicia “Ali” Pressel on Wednesday was named St. Johns County 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year.
“I’m very excited. I’m overwhelmed. And it’s been a whirlwind 24 hours, but I’m the amount of community support the outpouring of support. I’ve just been very touched by that,” Pressel told News4Jax Thursday.
Pressel and other educators were honored during a ceremony hosted by INK! (Investing in Kids) held at school district headquarters while a virtual production of the event ran online.
Pressel, a Jacksonville resident, has been teaching at Creekside High School since 2008.
She said because of the pandemic this year has been a challenging but still a very rewarding teaching experience.
“Teachers are resilient, and students are even more resilient. I think that while there have been a number of challenges for everybody this year, resiliency has been key, and everyone has done a fantastic job of adapting to all of the challenges,” Pressel said.
She teaches four levels within the St. Johns County Career Academies program, the Academy of Environmental Sciences, and Advanced Placement (AP) Environmental Science. She also sponsors the Environmental Club and the Geospatial Mapping Club at Creekside and works with multiple community business partners to bring grant opportunities, internships and job shadow experiences to her students to promote career readiness.
In addition to serving on the Teacher Advisory Council with the National Geographic Society, Pressel was recently named a 2020 National Geographic Emerging Explorer for her work integrating mapping software and “place-based learning.”
As part of the honor, Pressel won a new vehicle from Beaver Toyota St. Augustine, a new laptop computer from Staples in St. Augustine, as well as other gifts and prizes.
Pressel will now have the opportunity to apply for the overall Florida Teacher of the Year program.