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Leesburg High math teacher named Florida's Teacher of the Year

Tammy Jerkins presented with check for $25,000  

Tammy Jerkins, math teacher at Leesburg High School, was named the 2018 Macy’s/Florida Department of Education Teacher of the Year at the awards gala held Thursday night (7/13/17) at Hard Rock Live at Universal Studios Orlando.  

Governor Rick Scott said, "First Lady Ann Scott and I are proud to join Macy's and the Florida Department of Education to recognize the 2018 Teacher of the Year, Tammy Jerkins. I'd like to thank all of these educators for their incredible impact on Florida students and I applaud their commitment to preparing them for higher education and successful careers. The workers and leaders of tomorrow are in our classrooms today and every day, Florida teachers go above and beyond to ensure their success."

Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart offered her congratulations as well. "Mrs. Jerkins’ career has been marked by her commitment to excellence and service to Florida’s students,'' she said. "I look forward to working with her over the next year during her term as the Christa McAuliffe Ambassador for Education.”
This marks the 29th year of Macy’s sponsorship of the Florida Teacher of the Year program. Macy’s and the Florida Department of Education presented Jerkins with a check totaling $25,000, a $1,000 wardrobe, a $1,000 check for her school and an all-expense paid trip for four to New York City to attend this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
The remaining four finalists were presented with a $17,535.00 check from the Florida Department of Education and Macy’s – Elementary school teacher Katelyn Fiori from Vero Beach Elementary School in Indian River County; Exceptional Education teacher Diego Fuentes from the Hillcrest School in Marion County; Elementary school teacher Michael Miller from Kissimmee Elementary School Elementary School in Osceola County; and Mathematics and AVID teacher Vanessa Ko from Palm Harbor Middle School in Pinellas County. Each of the finalists’ schools received a $1,000 check during each of the announcements.
“Teachers generously give of themselves every day to educate, inspire and motivate their students," said Dennis Witte, Macy’s Executive Vice President Regional Director of Stores. "By doing this, they elevate and empower future generations to achieve great things. Macy’s is thankful to have the opportunity to celebrate and honor Tammy Jerkins for the contributions she is making by ensuring our students are equipped with critical thinking and problem-solving skills that are vital to Florida’s success.” 
Ms. Jerkins has been a teacher 17 years, 13 of which have been as a math teacher at Leesburg High School. Last year she taught Math for College Readiness, a class that seniors with college potential are placed in because they are not mathematically ready to enter college. The students take the PERT (Post-secondary Education Readiness Test) as their final exam, and 69 percent passed and were able to enter Florida colleges and take math classes for credit instead of non-credit remedial math courses.

She also taught Pre-Calculus Honors and said she saw a 100-point math gain in SAT scores among her students.

While test scores offer helpful data, Ms. Jerkins said the best feedback comes from students who have graduated high school and are now in college. “Every year, I have students return to see me and tell me that they are succeeding in their math classes,” she wrote. “Just last month, three students showed up at my classroom door on different occasions to thank me for preparing them for college. Those are the best days a teacher can have.”