By Colleen Michele Jones
The four finalists for Teacher of the Year in the St. Johns County School District were announced Dec. 19 and include two elementary teachers, a middle school teacher and a high school teacher.
Amy Grimm of Julington Creek Elementary School, Kathleen Hunting of Osceola Elementary School, Chassity Johnson of Sebastian Middle School and Jonathan Higgins from Pedro Menendez High School are vying for the top award.
Teacher of the Year and Rookie Teacher of the Year will be announced during the Jan. 24 banquet at the Renaissance World Golf Village Resort.
But in surprise visits to classrooms Tuesday morning — where students cheered for their teachers hearing the news — it was clear they are already winners in their students’ eyes.
Earlier in the month, the best teachers at each of the district’s 37 schools, as well as First Coast Technical College and St. Johns Virtual School, were named before the field was narrowed to four.
Grimm is a first-grade teacher with 22 years in the district. She considers herself a mentor to other teachers as well as a leader to students. It is not uncommon for her to be seen at her students’ extracurricular activities. Grimm also enjoys organizing fundraisers that benefit the school and local children’s charities.
Hunting teaches second grade and is a schoolwide leader in technology who loves sharing what she learns with her students and colleagues.
At Osceola, she has served as a Girls on the Run coach. She has six years of teaching experience, all within the district.
Johnson, an eighth-grade pre-algebra and geometry teacher, has 14 years of teaching experience, the last 10 in the district. She also works with student interns in St. Augustine High School’s Teaching Academy.
Higgins is a psychology teacher in Pedro Menendez’s IB program and was instrumental in bringing it to the school.
He has nine years of experience in St. Johns County.
Higgins believes that all students should be given the opportunity to participate in advanced courses, regardless of their abilities.
The winners for both Teacher of the Year and Rookie Teacher of the Year will be considered for recognition at the state level by the Florida Department of Education.