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The Teacher of the Year award recognizes and honors the contributions of outstanding classroom teachers who demonstrate a superior capacity to inspire a love of learning in students of all backgrounds and abilities. The district’s Teacher of the Year represents Orange County at the state level to compete for Florida Teacher of the Year.

Congratulations to the 2021-22 Teacher of the Year Finalists!

Maribel LopezMaribel Lopez, Visual Arts
Timber Springs Middle

As a teacher leader, Lopez instructs interns that it is important to know the material and design standards-based lessons, but it also is crucial to know the students. She believes when students trust that their teachers care about them, they are more likely to develop a growth mindset. Lopez provides her students real-world examples to showcase their art through a variety of contests and exhibits. She also encourages her Art Club students to participate in community events, using their artistic skills in hands-on activities and face-painting.


Corin MetzCorin Metz, Students with Exceptionalities, Grades 2-3
Thornebrooke Elementary

Metz’s biggest inspiration is seeing her students with exceptionalities thrive socially, behaviorally and academically. Students in her self-contained classroom flourish, in part, because she instills in them the belief that there are no limitations to what they can achieve. To help her students succeed academically and acquire skills, she creates adaptive materials to provide them access to grade-level standards. Her students’ learning gains confirm the academic decisions she makes for each one of them.


Alexandra PittmanAlexandra Pittman, English Language Arts, Grade 7
Innovation Middle

Using the Socratic Method, Pittman teaches her students how to transfer their verbal reasoning skills into written text evidence. This tactic proved successful as her students made significant learning gains in reading and writing. Pittman enjoys seeing students grow outside of the classroom, too. Sponsoring the school’s National Junior Honor Society and Student Government Association groups, she inspires members to develop innovative practices, such as community beautification projects and the “Test Stress Relief” games they held for students before FSA testing.


Jessica RobertsJessica Roberts, Intensive Reading and Media Specialists
Corner Lake Middle

Roberts is passionate about reading and inspires her students to find content that interests them. Under her tutelage, her intensive reading students improved their reading diagnostic growth more than 150%. She created a Lunchtime Book Club to provide a select group of students extra assistance and also First Chapter Fridays, a video series of her reading the first chapter of a high-interest book. Book checkout has increased exponentially. In addition to assisting students’ growth, Roberts serves as a new teacher mentor to help others excel in their calling.


Nancy WelchNancy Welch, Practical Nursing
Orange Technical College – Orlando Campus

Using a student-centered approach to teaching, Welch embraces the “village” of educators and health care professionals to support her students’ growth. She’s a strong believer that it takes a collective effort to build students’ nursing skills and increase their emotional intelligence. One of the most rewarding aspects of her job is seeing former students thrive in their careers at hospitals. Along with her teaching responsibilities at OTC, Welch teaches new educators best practices, provides resources and helps them build their capacity as educators.

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