Meet the Teacher of the Year Finalists

Catherine Beaudoin, Pryor Middle School, Judith Rodriguez, Laurel Hill School, and Jacqueline Sheffield, Fort Walton Beach High School, have been named the top three finalists for the 2015-2016 Teacher of the Year award. The winner of the Teacher of the Year award will be announced at the annual banquet dinner on February 19, 2015 and will go on to compete for 2016 Macy’s Florida Teacher of the Year.

The Teacher of the Year program recognizes and honors the contributions of outstanding classroom teachers who have demonstrated a superior capacity to inspire a love of learning in students of all backgrounds and abilities.

Catherine Beaudoin, Pryor Middle School

Catherine, a language arts teacher, has three years of experience working with middle and high school students as an instructor and coach.  She has a strong, extensive understanding of the English-Language Arts curriculum and its implementation in the 21st century classroom.  Catherine received her Bachelor of Arts in English and K-12 Education from Rowan University, Glassboro, New Jersey.  Prior to teaching at Pryor Middle School, she coached Soccer at Fort Walton Beach High School.

“My instructional practice of facilitation and guided learning has allowed my students to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills through the district focuses of close reading, writing through reading, and student talk,” said Beaudoin.  “I am teaching my students to have meaningful and purposeful collaboration, developing their ability to read beyond the literal translation and delve into deeper meaning of texts through a variety of techniques: Notice and Note signposts, Chalk-Talks, and SOAPSTone.  In order to prepare for the FSA Assessment, students have been using technology in the classroom to acquire technological literacy.”

As a leader at Pryor Middle School, the Language Arts department, and Okaloosa County School District, Catherine has contributed to the educational goals of her school and district in various capacities. 

“First, my strength in instruction is not limited to Language Arts, but in involving and translating Language Arts standards to other subject areas,” said Beaudoin. 

Catherine has become a cross-curricular liaison for her school in which her Language Arts classrooms focus on involving the cross-curricular focuses of Science and Social Studies.  Sixth grade fictional and informational text is focused on the areas that are currently being taught in Social Studies (such as reading the novel The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan during their Ancient Greek and Roman unit) and Science (such as close reading Earth/Space science article for Argumentative or Informational writing).

Involving parents, families, and the community in education plays an essential role to the successes of a child’s instruction.

“Parents, teachers, and students are all stakeholders in the education process; this significant aspect of education cannot be overlooked,” said Beaudoin.  “Parents and family play an integral role in my classroom, and I make an effort to communicate with them through a variety of channels.  For instance, my teacher webpage is updated on a weekly basis with homework and class work assignments, projects, and other important upcoming dates.”

By involving parents, families, and our community in education, we are more likely to develop motivated, well-rounded students.

As Teacher of the Year, the message Catherine would bring to the educational community would be that “we are on the precipice of a tremendous positive change in education.  We are repositioning our resources, our curriculum, and our passions to empower students for the truly global world in which they will compete.” 

Judith Rodriguez, Laurel Hill School

Judith Rodriguez, a mathematics teacher, has over ten years of teaching experience and joined the Okaloosa County School District in 2013.  Prior to coming to Laurel Hill School, she taught for the Wichita Falls Independent School District as a fourth – sixth grade math teacher.  Judith has shown great success with students who struggle academically and is proficient with numerous math practices supported in District Professional Development.

“During my first year at Laurel Hill School, all students in the intensive math classes were able to show learning gains on their FCAT,” said Rodriguez.  “I consistently use formative data as a tool to track my students’ learning.”

A challenge to be a leader in a small faculty of four secondary 6-12th grade math teachers, Judith has been able to collaborate with the department about math strategies and practices on a weekly basis.

“I have shared how I implement rigorous questioning during bell ringers and how I allow students to explain their answers in writing – taken from their thoughts and procedures,” said Rodriguez.  “One strategy I have shared most recently in the use of technology, DEA questioning, to spiral questions that the data reflects as being consistently missed.  I have been able to discuss with the department how higher expectations and student math discussion will help lead to better student behavior.”

After being observed in her classroom by state and district personnel, Judith was asked to model and present “Math Talk with Students” for all of the Elementary, Middle School, and High School principals in Okaloosa County.  She was also then asked to model and discuss Socratic Seminars in math at Ruckel Middle School and present her interactive notebooks to all North end fifth and sixth grade math teachers.

“Your expertise in the classroom was impressive and the rapport you have with your students was evident,” said Marcus Chambers, Assistant Superintendent, Curriculum and Instruction.  “The way you consciously and purposefully implement student talk into your classroom is seamless, but I know the work you put in on the front end makes the difference.  When I left your class, I could not stop smiling.  You are making a difference at Laurel Hill.”

“If selected (as the Teacher of the Year), I would serve as a spokesman and representative for the teaching profession by advocating for my fellow educators to learn how to make the best of new strategies and best practices that are placed before us,” said Rodriguez.  “I would love to lead teachers in effectively using the eight math practices.  We need to be able to step out of our shell and allow our students to explore mathematical concepts alone.  We must allow them to do all of the ‘MATH TALK’, the explaining of how and why a method works.  We need to allow for our students to explore even if it means they get an answer incorrect, allowing their peers to provide them with alternative ways to finding a solution.”

Judith has recently transferred to Shoal River Middle School.

Jacqueline Sheffield, Fort Walton Beach High School

Jacqueline, a mathematics teacher, currently serves as the Math Department Head, Gradebook Manager, Supervising teacher, Math Professional Development Cohort Leader, Equitable Duty Committee member, and the Beta Club sponsor.  She graduated from Fort Walton Beach High School and received her Bachelor of Arts in Education and Masters of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Florida.  Prior to teaching at Fort Walton Beach High School, she taught mathematics at Davidson Middle School.

With a 100 percent passing rate on the Algebra II Honors and Algebra I EOC exams, Jacqueline attributes her to success through her analysis of mastery per standard during the school year.

“At the end of the first semester, I carefully analyze exam results to identify areas of weakness,” said Sheffield.  “I post the most missed topics and the percent of students correctly answering each standard.  Throughout the nine weeks, I reteach and reassess these standards with warm ups, exit passes, bonus questions, quizzes, and group activities.  At the end of the nine weeks, I administer a third exam, where I reassess the most missed topics, along with other topics learned during the year.”

Sheffield says that she posts the most missed concepts, along with percentage correct, for two reasons: (1) as a daily reminder of the concepts we need to work on and why I am constantly focusing on specific standards, and (2) students gain a tremendous sense of pride and accomplishment as they track their progress and place new percentages next to the concepts.

As a math teacher, Jacqueline has had the opportunity to serve as a leader at both the county and state level.

“At the county level, I have co-led a vertical alignment in-service with feeder schools,” said Sheffield.  “I also taught middle school and Algebra I summer math training.  These trainings were aimed at aiding the struggling student with technology and hands on activities.  Throughout my years of teaching, I have discovered that, when teachers know why they are teaching a skill and how it will be a critical building block in a child’s math development, they see how important their instruction is and how they are impacting every child’s future.”

When asked about Jacqueline, Principal Charlene Couvillon says she does not know where to start and what to leave out.  “There is so much to say about Jackie, I could write pages and pages,” said Couvillon.  “Jackie is an amazing teacher who is very involved in our school.  She is very well liked and respected by her students and peers.  She is definitely a school leader and one that isn’t afraid to get in there, roll her sleeves up and get the job done.  She is a wonderful representative of all of the great teachers at Fort Walton Beach High School.”