Photo left to right standing: Superintendent Bobby Pearce, Elena Myhre, Lauren Baker, Sharon Scherbarth, Becky Thomas, Chief Academic Officer Sunny Chancy Left to right seated: Anne Thurmond, Kristi Lawhon, Melissa Martin, Lauralee Moore
Photo by Rhonda Stevens
Nominations from each school’s faculty began the process in September, then nominees submitted professional and biographical information forms for their faculties to read. Faculties then voted for their school’s Teacher of the Year. Selected teachers’ names were concealed until Superintendent Pearce visited each school.
Elena Myhre serves two schools per year as an art teacher for grades kindergarten through 5 at Crawfordville and Medart Elementary Schools. She works at Crawfordville Elementary School all of Semester 1 and was nominated by her peers to be their CES Teacher of the Year.
Myhre earned a bachelor’s degree in Studio Art with Concentration in Ceramics and 3D Media, plus has a Master of Fine Arts degree in Interior Design. She earned her professional teaching certificate in Art for grades kindergarten through 12 and has been working with elementary children for four years. In addition, she has been a graduate instructor of Design Fundamentals at Florida State University.
She states, “Effective teachers have a deep knowledge of their content area and design bridges to bring that knowledge to the student. Effective teaching occurs when teachers use their knowledge to reach those who may be reluctant to learning and inspire success regardless.”
Some of the professional development activities she’s been involved with include technology training; all performing and fine arts local in-services; Stephen Covey’s “The Leader in Me” training; and the Kagan Cooperative Learning Strategies workshop.
Myhre also serves on the board of the Wakulla Academic Boosters, is a member of the Coastal Optimist Club, and works with the Miss Wakulla Scholarship Organization.
Lauren Baker of Medart Elementary has a bachelor’s degree with a dual major in Elementary Education for grades kindergarten through 6 and in Exceptional Student Education (ESE) for grades kindergarten through 12. She also has a master’s degree in Educational Leadership and is certified as a Clinical Educator, meaning she is qualified to supervise interns. This is her tenth year of teaching. She began this school year working with second graders, and is now working with the whole school as Medart Elementary’s Media Specialist.
Baker says, “I try to create a classroom environment where students feel safe, confident, and have a desire to participate in learning. Although planning and preparation are essential to that learning, I believe I must be flexible enough to seize a teachable opportunity when it arises, whether through lecture, hands-on participation, laughter, or even in song.”
She has been a presenter for such trainings as Data Day; New Educator Boot Camp; and at a conference for winning the “Exceeding Expectations” award for Title I Schools from the East Coast Technical Center. Baker and another teacher from their former school Riversink Elementary gave workshops on strategies their school used successfully.
Baker was named Teacher of the Month in both 2012 and 2016. She is also a mentor to new teachers and is certified to supervise interns. In addition, she has served as grade-level chair and on school teams such as those for Reading Leadership and Technology.
Melissa Martin was chosen by Riversink Elementary School as their representative. She earned a bachelor’s degree with dual majors in Elementary Education and ESE for grades kindergarten through 12, plus added on Endorsements in Reading and in English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). She has been teaching for six years and currently teaches fifth grade students.
She notes, “Effective teachers create lesson plans that require students to think critically, allowing an opportunity for perseverance. A collaborative atmosphere is established for the students to learn from each other and from their own mistakes.”
Martin honed the skill of engaging her students with real-world science and math problems through attending the NASA Microgravity eXperience, the NASA Exploration Design Challenge, the NASA Journey to Mars, and training with the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS).
She is a member of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International for female educators, and has held several leadership positions such as Yearbook sponsor and grade-level chair. Martin is also a member of the National Education Association and of the National Science Teachers Association.
Shadeville Elementary voted for teacher Lauralee Moore to represent their school. She has a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and is certified in ESE and ESOL grades kindergarten through 12. She has been teaching for seven years and currently works with first grade students.
Moore notes, “Every student in my class knows I have high expectations and will do everything I can to help my students meet and surpass them which creates a sense of pride in the classroom.”
Some of the professional development she has pursued include training on Project Learning Tree; Kagan Cooperative Learning Strategies; and Wakulla Technology Institutes I, II, and III.
Moore’s leadership experiences are evident in being the SES Performance Matters trainer; Health and Wellness coach for Shadeville’s children and adults; Teacher of the Month January 2016; and Sunshine Committee chair.
Anne Thurmond is the representative for Riversprings Middle School. She earned dual bachelor’s degrees in Elementary Education and ESE grades kindergarten through 12, holds a master’s degree in Reading and Language Arts Education, and is certified in Middle Grades Integrated Curriculum. This is her sixteenth year of teaching. She currently teaches English Language Arts, math, science, history and Learning Strategies to sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students in ESE classes.
Stating her philosophy of teaching, she says, “My heart has always been for the students who struggle; the students who need extra support. I believe every student, with or without disabilities, can learn.”
Some of the ways she has expanded her teaching skills include trainings in Environmental Communication; Technology in the Classroom; Increasing Motor Skills in the Special Education Classroom; and Discipline in the Special Education Classroom.
Thurmond has honed leadership skills as a member of the Environmental Communication District Team; co-district leader for ESE students with Intellectual Disabilities; mentor teacher; Ability United coach; Special Olympics basketball coach; and Fellowship of Christian Athletes sponsor. She was also voted RMS Teacher of the Month in 2015.
Rebecca (“Becky”) Thomas is the representative from Wakulla Middle School. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and is certified in Middle Grades English and Middle Grades Social Science, both grades 5 through 9; Media Specialist grades prekindergarten through 12; and has earned the Reading Endorsement. This is her thirty-eighth year in education. Currently she is the Media Specialist for all WMS students and teachers, plus teaches Intensive Reading classes.
She believes, “One person who is equipped to assist students learn can change that child’s life forever. Teaching strategies to learn is as important as teaching concepts.”
Thomas has attended professional development trainings including AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination); Response to Intervention; Technology in the Classroom; and she participates in the Florida Media Specialists’ Learning Community. She is also a member of the Florida Association of Media Educators.
Her school involvement roles are as Reading Chair of the School Advisory Council, and as sponsor for the Yearbook, Broadcast Team, Million Word Reader and Accelerated Reader incentives programs, and the Young Sunshine State Readers program. In addition, Thomas has been voted both as a Teacher of the Month and as the 2015 Teacher of the Year at WMS.
Kristi Lawhon represents Wakulla High School as their Teacher of the Year. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Nursing. Lawhon has been teaching for seven years as leader of the WHS Medical Academy and instructs students in Health Science Anatomy and Physiology, Health Science Foundations, and Nursing 3.
She observes, “I believe that every child is reachable and it is our job as instructors to find what ‘clicks’ with each student. I also believe that students ‘mirror’ the atmosphere in their classroom. I always want my classroom to be a place of respect, open-mindedness and learning.”
Lawhon is an American Heart Association instructor for Basic Life Support. Needing to keep current on the latest trends, she constantly updates her skills by taking online courses relating to health care issues. She is also a mentor to other teachers.
As the lead instructor for the WHS Medical Academy, she organizes their Open House, Pinning Ceremony, and a yearly Medical Academy project. She teaches and certifies all of her students in CPR, First Responder, and prepares them for the Certified Nursing Assistant state boards. In addition, she coordinates and supervises students in clinical rotations at nursing homes and hospitals. She also sponsors the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
District professionals who serve several schools chose Sharon Scherbarth as their representative. She is a teacher of the Visually Impaired, plus is an Orientation and Mobility Specialist. In addition, she is certified in Varying Exceptionalities. This is her twenty-first year of teaching and she works with students in Exceptional Education from all the district schools where she is needed.
Scherbarth says about her students, “I want to encourage them to believe in themselves as they deal with real life situations. Students should know that they can trust their teachers and teachers should be the biggest cheerleaders for their students. An educator should encourage, love and support.”
Professional trainings she has been involved with include the Assistive Technology Industry Association Conference; Special Olympics Coaches Conferences and Leadership Conferences; Weekends with the Experts for Teachers of the Visually Impaired; and Wakulla ESE Institute sessions.
Involvement with the local and state Special Olympics has enhanced her leadership skills as she has taken on extra roles as Wakulla County director, coach, volunteer and chaperone of Wakulla students involved with Special Olympics. She also earned the Special Olympics Florida (SOFL) Wakulla County Coach of the Year award. In addition, Scherbarth is the Local Assistive Technology (LATS) Specialist; Coordinator of the University Experience Program at Florida State University; and a volunteer for the Lighthouse of the Big Bend/Dining in the Dark event.
These eight are now in the running for Wakulla County’s 2017 District Teacher of the Year, who will be announced in January. A qualified panel of judges will rate a written packet and an interview from each teacher. The 2017 Wakulla County Teacher of the Year will then compete with the other districts’ Teachers of the Year for the Florida Teacher of the Year award in the spring.
States Superintendent Pearce, “These eight teachers are great representatives and will be voices for all the educators in the district as I meet with them on important issues throughout the year. It’s a very interesting group with a variety of experience in their different areas for bringing ideas to the table.” In addition, these teachers will serve on several Wakulla School District committees.
All Wakulla County teachers will be honored at the Teacher of the Year Breakfast on March 20, 2017 at Riversink Elementary School.