(Jan. 21, 2021) In a school year that posed challenges like no other, was it even possible to single out a Teacher of the Year?
Should the award go to Amanda Palmer, a teacher at Hunter’s Green Elementary School who made her Zoom meetings “full-out singing sessions” so students would remember their math concepts?
How about MacFarlane Park Elementary’s Katie Stallings? She sent her students cardboard cutouts in her likeness “so they could take me on adventures and write letters of all the things Flat Mrs. Stallings did with them.”
Judges in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties had to choose among hundreds whose dedication and ingenuity were strained to new limits when the coronavirus pandemic closed the schools for three months, then reopened them with severe restrictions.
Pinellas found its 2021 Teacher of the Year in Sarah Painter, 41, a fifth-grade teacher at Eisenhower Elementary in Clearwater.
“I want my students to set high goals for themselves, to be self motivated,” the 18-year teacher said in a video interview. She said she is motivated by “the legacy I’m leaving behind for my children, my students and the families that I work with. It’s motivating to know that I’m changing lives.”