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4 teachers awarded $15K for career excellence

Gladys Prior Awards managed by University of North Florida

Teachers Mary Phillips (left) and Amy Glendenning were two of four recipients of this year's Gladys Prior Awards for Career Teaching Excellence

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Four Jacksonville teachers got a big surprise in their classrooms Monday: $15,000 checks courtesy of the 2019 Gladys Prior Awards for Career Teaching Excellence.

The awards were established by Gilchrist Berg, founder and president of Water Street Capital, to honor teachers who have had lifelong careers in teaching and inspiring students.

To date, Berg has given more than $1 million to honor Jacksonville teachers with an award named after his fourth-grade teacher, Gladys Prior, at Ortega Elementary School. 

The University of North Florida College of Education and Human Services manages the gift and coordinates the annual award competition. 

This year's recipients are 

  • Amy Glendenning of Seabreeze Elementary
  • Mary Phillips at Fletcher Middle
  • Kevin Sullivan at Ed White High
  • Terry Woodlief from Central Riverside Elementary

Together, these teachers have a combination of over 120 years of teaching experience.

“If we want the best and brightest to join the teaching profession, be eager to teach and be committed to making a difference in the lives of young people, then, as a community, we need to invest in the success of our teachers,” said Dr. Diane Yendol-Hoppey, UNF COEHS dean. “Mr. Berg’s creation of the Gladys Prior Awards demonstrates a sincere appreciation for these dedicated teachers who have chosen to make teaching a career and have done so with passion and zeal.”

Here is more on this year's winners:

Amy Glendenning is a special education teacher at Seabreeze Elementary School. She has been teaching for 34 years, 21 of which have been at Seabreeze. She is best described as a teacher who adapts her classroom to meet the needs of every single child. Her ability to work with parents to arrange for extra instruction time -- to include early mornings, afternoon and lunchtime sessions -- enforces her commitment to her students’ success. She is described as a teacher who seeks out ideas and resources to make sure things “click” for each and every student.

Mary Phillips is a civics teacher at Fletcher Middle School. She has been teaching for more than 20 years and is a respected community leader in the Jacksonville Beach area. In addition to her effective and impactful teaching style, she’s known for her commitment to civic duties, as evidenced by her membership in the Jacksonville Beach Citizen Police force and the countless hours she has dedicated to community-based nonprofits that provide outreach and necessary services to families and students.

Kevin Sullivan is a physical education teacher at Edward White High School. He has been teaching for more than 33 years, 21 of which have been in Duval County public schools. He was considering retirement but decided to teach for five more years when he was asked to help start a magnet program at Ed White (Military Academy of Leadership). He played a crucial role ensuring the success of the Special Olympics program at Atlantic Coast High School when the program was first established and is known for his commitment to ensuring all students are included in all events.

Terry Woodlief is an art teacher at Central Riverside Elementary School. She has been teaching for more than 40 years and has been repeatedly recognized as a Duval County Public School District Teacher of the Year. She has been lauded by other educators as a teacher with extensive knowledge of how to use technology in instruction, and for her ability to support the whole child by extending classroom teaching to embrace other core subjects.