4 Jacksonville teachers surprised with $15K Gladys Prior Career Teaching Excellence awards

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Four Jacksonville teachers were recognized Wednesday for their teaching excellence and were surprised with $15,000 each.

The University of North Florida College of Education and Human Services surprised the four teachers with the 2022 Gladys Prior Awards for Career Teaching Excellence.

The award comes with $15,000, one of the largest monetary awards for teachers in the nation.

The Gladys Prior Awards for Career Teaching Excellence were established in 1998 by Gilchrist Berg, founder and president of Water Street Capital, to honor teachers with lifelong careers in education. Berg has given more than $2 million to honor Jacksonville teachers. The award is named after Berg’s fourth-grade teacher at Ortega Elementary School, Gladys Prior.

The 2022 award winners are:

  • Meshellia Hughes, third grade teacher from Andrew A. Robinson Elementary School
  • May Hotard, World Languages teacher from Bishop Kenny High School
  • Crystal Parker, Language Arts teacher from Edward H. White High School
  • Sara Henry, first grade teacher from Ruth N. Upson Elementary School

“I have always wanted to teach,” Hotard said. “I remember starting out teaching and thinking, they’re paying me to do this! so, it’s just a calling.”

“I am amazed and overwhelmed and so excited right now,” Henry said. “In my heart of hearts, I’m thinking about all of the kids that I’ve taught and just thinking about all the things we can do for our school with this giant check!”

Each teacher was surprised in class with their principal and Dr. Diane Yendol-Hoppey, UNF COEHS dean.