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Teachers of the Year

Ashley Taylor has been a first-grade teacher at Callahan Elementary School for eight years. Besides her role in the classroom, she's also her grade level chair, a member of the leadership committee, the chair of the SAC committee, and the yearbook advisor. Ashley is an active member of the community of Callahan, where she has taught dance for over 20 years and now serves as the Studio Director at Callahan Dance Academy. What sets Ashley apart is her genuine love and care for every student. She puts it simply:

"The opportunity to make a difference in a young child’s life, through their education, is one that I am truly passionate about—being able to equip students with the tools to be successful and the confidence to do so, is one that I am so blessed to do each and every day. Students are so much more than a number on a piece of paper. As long as my students know how proud I am of them and how much I love them, then I’ve done my job!”



 

Ms. Sawicki is going on her 21st year in the education field. She started as a substitute teacher in Polk County, Florida. While working as a substitute teacher during the day and working on the weekends at Disney, Ms. Sawicki put herself through night school. She attended Florida Southern College out of Lakeland, Florida, earning a bachelor’s and master’s degree in education. After teaching for sixteen years in Polk County, Florida, she moved to Duval County and joined the Nassau County School Board in 2018 as a primary teacher. She taught elementary grades along with gifted students before making the jump to Reading Coach. Ms. Sawicki holds a professional certificate in Elementary Education and pre-kindergarten/Primary Education. She is also ESOL, Reading, and Gifted endorsed. Ms. Sawicki was born in New York. She is the middle child of seven. Her family comes from a long line of community workers, from teachers to the military to police officers to the mayor. Ms. Sawicki enjoys reading, traveling, photography, and scrapbooking in her free time.

 

Ashley Taylor has been a first-grade teacher at Callahan Elementary School for eight years. Besides her role in the classroom, she's also her grade level chair, a member of the leadership committee, the chair of the SAC committee, and the yearbook advisor. Ashley is an active member of the community of Callahan, where she has taught dance for over 20 years and now serves as the Studio Director at Callahan Dance Academy. What sets Ashley apart is her genuine love and care for every student. She puts it simply: "The opportunity to make a difference in a young child’s life, through their education, is one that I am truly passionate about—being able to equip students with the tools to be successful and the confidence to do so, is one that I am so blessed to do each and every day. Students are so much more than a number on a piece of paper. As long as my students know how proud I am of them and how much I love them, then I’ve done my job!”

 

David Harris has been teaching at Callahan Intermediate School for four years.  His passion for teaching children is nothing new, having served in ministry for the past 15 years in roles that oversee Family Ministries.  His ministerial experience took him and his family to Virginia, Georgia, and Tennessee.  While serving in ministry, he achieved his goal of earning a bachelor’s degree in biblical studies and a master’s degree in divinity from Lee University.  Mr. Harris still serves his local church as the Associate pastor of Youth and Children.   He grew up in Nassau County and calls Callahan his home.  His love for the community has poured into his school.  In this element, he excels at building relationships with students at his campus.  He is passionate about inspiring his students to be all they can be.  He refers to his students as experts in the classroom and gives them opportunities to feel confident in who they are. His goal is to see his students succeed in every task that they undertake.

 

In 1987, Mr. Paul Arnold became the first and only Callahan Middle School band director.  In these 37 years, CMS bands have won numerous awards under Mr. Arnold’s expert direction, including the prestigious Golden Mickey Award and the Florida Bandmasters Association's highest state ratings.  In addition, Mr. Arnold’s musicians have been invited to and enjoyed playing on the steps of the United States Capitol building three times. Along with Mr. Arnold’s duties as an award-winning and much-loved band teacher, he serves as the District 17 Chairman of the Florida Bandmasters Association, is an active member of the State Executive Board, serves on the Florida Music Educators Association Reclamation Committee, and is in high demand as an adjudicator for the Florida Bandmasters Association. At Callahan Middle School, Mr. Arnold is a technology coach, new teacher mentor, and student government sponsor. His students and peers know him as someone who doesn’t just teach music but inspires students to strive for excellence in all areas of life using humor, compassion, and generosity.

 

Ashley Scott is a 3rd grade teacher at Emma Love Hardee Elementary School. She has taught 3rd grade at ELH for all 12 years of her teaching career. She has been the Grade Level Chair for seven years and has coached Girls on the Run at ELH for ten seasons. Ashley has hosted three college interns from FSCJ and UNF, mentored First Year Teachers, participated in the Nassau Future Leaders Academy, and taught 4th/5th-grade Minds on a Mission (Summer School). She has been happy to call Nassau County home for 20 years and is a proud Fernandina Beach High School alumnus, Class of 2007. Ashley is passionate about helping children further their education while also counseling them to be successful members of society. She wants every child to leave her classroom empowered and prepared for their future. She takes great pride in being a teacher and strives to instill a love of learning in every child she’s been lucky enough to call her student.

 

Joy teaches Drawing, Painting, and Advanced Placement at Fernandina Beach High School and is the National Art Honor Society sponsor. Joy graduated from Old Dominion University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a concentration in Art Education.  After living abroad, she taught at a middle school in Montgomery County, Maryland, and then at the elementary level in Clay County, Florida. She has been teaching for twenty-three years.  

Her students recently won art awards at Carnegie Hall in NYC and the Capital in Washington, DC, representing Florida’s Fourth Congressional District. Joy Keith's goal is to guide young students' artistic journey by building skills and practicing problem-solving skills while helping each artist create a visual voice that represents their true self. She is excited to represent the art community and share the importance of art education in young people's lives.

 

Danielle Sheehan is a marine mammal trainer turned middle school science teacher. Her first career was training dolphins for the Navy Marine Mammal Program and SeaWorld. Her training experience was rooted in relationship building, positive reinforcement, and marine education. After having two children, she searched for a career that would allow her flexibility with her family while still tapping into her passions. Her experience and deep enthusiasm for all things science motivated her to jump into teaching.  Danielle began teaching in Nassau County in 2020. Her first year was at HMSHS teaching biology, environmental, sixth and eighth-grade science before moving to the science team at FBMS.  She completed her Master’s in Secondary Education in 2023. In the classroom, Danielle works hard to create a safe space where students have fun learning and getting hands-on with science. She coaches her daughter’s soccer team in her community, owns a small business at the local art market, and volunteers for Amelia Island Sea Turtle Watch as an FWC-permitted member.

 

Mrs. Kristin Rewis-Hobbs earned her associate degree from Florida State College at Jacksonville. After obtaining her AA, she was accepted into the master’s program at Jacksonville University and graduated from JU with a master’s and bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. She completed her first year of teaching at Louis S. Sheffield in Duval County. As the expression, “Once a flash, always a flash,” rings true, she knew she was destined to come home to her alma mater to continue her teaching career. She has been at Hilliard Elementary School for the past six years. When asked about her teaching philosophy, she insisted that with every child she encounters throughout her career, relationships and connections should always be a priority. Students will continuously be more successful when they know someone is in their corner who believes in them and wholeheartedly believes they can reach their full potential. Students will thrive academically and emotionally with an educator who encourages and empowers them.

 

Angela has been employed as an educator at HMSHS for six years. Initially, she began her career by instructing Middle School ELA and Digital Media courses. Over time, she transitioned to a full-time position within our CTE department, teaching Digital Media, Entrepreneurship, social media, and On the Job Training (OJT). This year, she has taken on the role of School Assessment Coordinator. Over the past few years, Angela has been actively engaged in capturing significant moments on campus to share on the HMSHS social media and website. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, she takes on various leadership roles within the school community, serving as the Sr Beta sponsor and co-sponsor for the Future Business Leaders of America. Additionally, she fulfills the responsibility of technology co-chair on campus, assisting students and staff with their technology needs and ensuring a smooth and efficient learning environment. In addition to her various roles, Angela is currently enrolled in the Educational Leadership program at the American College of Education.

 

Kim West has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and is certified to teach grades 6-12 in Florida, among other states.  She is privileged to work with Nassau County Community School in the middle school disciplinary (and credit recovery) department. She receives students who have made bad decisions from all our Nassau County middle schools.  Her previous work experience has included online instruction and ESE at Fernandina Beach High School, alternative education (through Ombudsman) for Camden County, GA, high and middle schools, and alternative education at Rockmart High and Middle Schools.  Ms. West has always chosen to work with disciplinary students whenever she has been given the choice.  She enjoys creating a positive relationship with her students and their parents, which they are not accustomed to because of student choices.  She loves finding ways for her students to be successful so that she can share these things with their parents.  Ms. West came to teaching later in life after having jobs in government and sales, and truly believe she has found her talent, her niche in life working with disciplinary students trying to help them better their lives.

 

Trayce has worked in Nassau County at Southside Elementary for the past 12 years. During her time here, she has taught 1st grade, 2nd grade, Support Facilitation, and Inclusion classes and has been the 2nd grade chair for the past five years. She is part of the school leadership team, facilitating leadership plans, mentoring teachers, and creating lesson plans. Trayce graduated from the University of North Florida with her Bachelor’s in Elementary Education in 2012. She is certified to teach Elementary Education K-6, Exceptional Student Education, and ESOL. Trayce knew from a young age that she wanted to help others when she grew up. Being a teacher has allowed her to work with children to grow their knowledge and confidence. She loves cultivating relationships and getting to grow alongside her students every year. She feels that with this career, every day is a new experience, every child is different, and every year brings new experiences!

 

Tammy Roberts has been with the Nassau County School District for twenty years.  She came to the district after 30 years in the corporate arena, where she worked to become an Executive Project Manager for IBM.   She was hired at West Nassau in 2003 as a Guidance Secretary; she then moved to a Data Entry position.  In 2006, she was presented with the opportunity to teach Diversified Career Technology and coordinate the On-the-Job Training program for West Nassau.  She accepted the position, and after fourteen years of teaching, she was offered a position at the District Career Technical Education Department, where she served as the On-the-Job Training Coordinator.  She is a Career and Technical Education Teacher at West Nassau High School, the Home of the Warriors.  She has served as Advisor for Junior Class, Senior Class, Key Club, Chick-fil-A Leader Academy, Women of Influence, On-the-Job Training, VyStar Academy of Business, and THE HUB operator.   Overall, Tammy Roberts is passionate about serving others and student success.

 

Coach Godbolt is in his 19th year of education and has taught in Duval and Nassau County. He has served in various roles, including Elementary Classroom Teacher, Reading Coach, ESE Support Facilitator, Virtual Teacher, and his current position as Physical Education Coach at Wildlight Elementary School. Coach Godbolt teaches collaboration, teamwork, and life skills in a fun way. He is dedicated to creating engaging and innovative activities for students to learn to be active and healthy and has lots of fun participating and dancing along with the students. He creates an engaging and inclusive experience for all children. He works tirelessly to plan, organize, and develop lessons that are appropriate for the age group while making it fun. He involves the community and parents by posting pictures and videos of what is happening in P.E. and involving them in organizing an outstanding, memorable Field Day event. He believes every child has the potential to learn, grow, and succeed.

 

Kearney Placzkowski is a dedicated education professional working in the field for over a decade. After graduating from the University of North Florida in 2006, she began her career as an Intensive Reading teacher at Wolfson High School in Duval County. This early experience taught her the importance of building solid relationships with her students and instilled in her the foundations of good teaching. Over the years, Mrs. Placzkowski has taught subjects including Intensive Math, Geometry, and Algebra at A. Philip Randolph Career Academies and First Coast High School. She has always been passionate about helping her students learn and grow, and she believes that understanding the whole student is vital to effective teaching. After taking a break to raise her children, Mrs. Placzkowski returned to education as a support facilitation teacher at Yulee Elementary School in Nassau County. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in educational leadership and expects to graduate in December of 2023.

 

Brandi Heath, an English teacher at Yulee High School, has worked in the field of education for the last 20 years. She spent the first 16 years of her teaching experience in Duval County, where she taught kindergarten through 5th grade, in addition to working as a reading interventionist and coach, before returning to the classroom at the high school level. Mrs. Heath joined the faculty of Yulee High School in 2020, where she has spent the last four years teaching 9th and 10th grade English and Intensive Reading.  Mrs. Heath moved to secondary education because she was excited by the opportunity to help students see the potential within themselves as they make the final push toward graduation. Her classroom philosophy is built on the idea that if “we treat people as they were what they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming” (Goethe). She strives to set high expectations for her students, working alongside them using their past data to set new, attainable goals for themselves.

 

Yulee Middle School is honored to announce Mrs. Andrea Miles as the YMS 2023-2024 teacher of the year. After relocating with her family from Washington State, Mrs. Miles joined the Nassau County School District in 2021 and has over 17 years of experience in education. While working in Washington, Mrs. Miles was an Honors English Language Arts teacher and taught Social Studies, Washington State History, Computer Technology, Inclusion ELA, Summer School, and World Geography. She holds a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction, focusing on Language Arts, Technology, and Reading Assessment. While in Washington, she contributed to the Honors and English Curriculum by actively participating on the Curriculum Writing English Team and National Junior Honor Society, Leadership teams, assessment committees, and Curriculum Adoption Committees. Mrs. Miles is committed to the YMS school community through work with her Gifted, ELA, and Journalism students, her work through technology committees and clubs, her school leadership team, and her contribution of ideas to her PLC teams. She led an after-school creative writing and coding club and helped her classroom students enter and win several writing contests. Additionally, over fifty students from Mrs. Miles’ classes became published writers through the Amelia Island Book Festival.

 

Melinda Hartman is a 1st-grade teacher at Yulee Primary School and has taught for ten years. She taught 2nd grade for the first four years at YPS and moved to 1st for the last six years at YPS. She always knew she wanted to be a teacher, even when she was young. She stayed home with her four children for 17 years before entering the classroom. She always enjoyed helping others to learn and grow. Her primary responsibilities include planning lessons, developing in-classroom strategies, meeting and communicating with parents in person and through an online portal, and running extracurricular activities relevant to student development. Melinda earned a bachelor's degree in teaching and has taken on various tutoring and mentoring roles. She strives to make learning fun, engaging, and accessible to all students. She believes deeply in student-centered learning and always looks for new and creative ways to present the curriculum. She aims to inspire the next generation to have confidence in their problem-solving abilities.