District honors Teacher of the Year, Employee of the Year nominees

Gulf District Schools is honoring their school-level winners in their annual Teacher of the Year competition ahead of their announcement of this year’s overall winner.

The four nominees for Gulf District Schools’ Teacher of the Year will be observed by a three-person team of out-of-district administrators on Dec. 15, said the schools’ Chief of Staff Lori Price. Then, a district winner will be selected based on the observation and a letter of recommendation from a colleague.

The five nominees for School-Related Employee of the Year, along with their immediate supervisors, will be interviewed by a three-person committee of retired educators for the district’s Employee of the Year contest.

Nominated from each of the district’s four schools, teachers are selected 90 percent based on other teachers’ votes and 10 percent on the principal’s vote. 

This year’s nominees include Kim McFarland, who teaches math at Port st. Joe High School; Chevonelle Johns, who teaches English at Wewahitchka High School; Michelle Baker, who teaches 2nd grade at Port St. Joe Elementary School; and Kayla Bailey, who teaches 3rd grade at Wewahitchka Elementary School.

The district winner will go on to compete in the 2022 Florida Department of Education Teacher of the Year program. Selection criteria includes a video, resume, essays, lesson plans, letters of recommendation, and superintendent nomination letter.

For employee of the year, the non-instructional staff from each school as well as the maintenance/transportation department vote in a confidential ballot. These five candidates and their immediate supervisors are interviewed by a team of retired educators.  

A district winner is selected who goes on to compete in the state School-Related Employee of the Year competition. 

This year’s nominees are Debbie Peak, a guidance secretary at Port St. Joe High School; Elizabeth Guemmaz, a paraprofessional at Port St. Joe Elementary School; Ashley Forehand, a secretary at Wewahitchka High School; Tiffany Brock, a secretary at Wewahitchka Elementary School; and Julie Hedberg, a bus driver for the Wewahitchka schools.

Price said winners will be announced shortly before the schools let out for winter break.


Meet the Editor

Wendy Weitzel, The Star’s digital editor, joined the news outlet in August 2021, as a reporter covering primarily Gulf County.

Prior to then, she interned for Oklahoma-based news wire service Gaylord News and for Oklahoma City-based online newspaper NonDoc.com during her four years at the University of Oklahoma, from which she graduated in May with degrees in online journalism and political science.

While at OU, Weitzel was selected as Carnegie-Knight News21 Investigative Fellow among 30 top journalism students from around the country. She also was senior editor managing a 12-person newsroom in coordination with Oklahoma Watch, a non-profit news organization in eastern Oklahoma.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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