Teacher of the Year finalists announced

From left, Jessie Jung from Alachua Elementary School, Diane Ried from Gainesville High School and Jamie Morris from Howard Bishop Middle School have been selected to represent the elementary, middle and high school teachers as finalists for 2013 Alachua County Teacher of the Year.

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Published: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 11:21 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 3:36 p.m.

A survivor of Hurricane Katrina, a former professional baseball scout and a foreign language expert are in the running to be named the 2013 Alachua County Teacher of the Year.

Jessie Jung, from Alachua Elementary School; Jamie Morris, from Howard Bishop Middle School; and Diane Ried, from Gainesville High School, have been selected to represent teachers in this year’s countywide program.

The winning teacher will be announced at the annual Teacher of the Year event on Feb. 7 and will represent the district in the Florida Teacher of the Year program.

“Jessie, Jamie and Diane are all outstanding representatives of the wonderful teachers we have here in Alachua County,” Superintendent Dan Boyd said in a news release. “I’ll be proud to have any one of them representing our district at the state level.”

Jung began teaching nine years ago in Gulfport, Miss., but when she lost her home during Hurricane Katrina, she moved to Alachua County.

She taught one year at Lawton Chiles Elementary, and has been teaching third-, fourth- and fifth-graders at Alachua Elementary since 2006. She said she always knew she wanted to work with children and help them reach their potential.

“Sometimes they come in thinking there’s nothing they’re good at,” she said in the news release. “It’s really fun to see them gain confidence, to help them see what they can do and really take off.”

Eva M. Copeland, principal at Alachua Elementary, said she is especially proud of Jung because Jung teaches a third- and fourth-grade combination class and must balance two curriculums, “which is not an easy task.”

“She gives every student in her class what they need,” Copeland said. “She’s a very dynamic teacher.”

Copeland said Jung’s dedication transcends the four walls of her classroom.

“I can count on her to be here for every family night that we have,” she said, “She wants to be an active, caring teacher for all of her children.”

Social studies teacher Morris also began his teaching career in Mississippi, at a high school in Jackson. He taught in high schools and colleges for 25 years, with stints as a scout for the Toronto Blue Jays and president of a building supply company during that time. Then he landed at Bishop, where he teaches American History to gifted students.

“I hope that they get the idea that learning is fun, that it’s something they’ll continue to do for the rest of their lives,” Morris said in the release. “One of the great residuals of this job is that I get to keep learning every day.”

Mike Gamble, principal at Howard Bishop Middle School, said Morris is “one of the best.”

“He just puts so much into his teaching,” Gamble said. “Usually he’s the first teacher here in the morning and the last one to leave.”

Although Morris teaches American History, Gamble said the eighth-grade team leader offers his students more than just a history lesson.

“He teaches life lessons,” Gamble said. “He’s the kind of teacher we wish all of our kids to have, and as a parent, I say that honestly.”

Morris said his son is currently one of his students, which makes being selected as a finalist this year even more special.

Ried, who is the Social Studies Department Chair, has been teaching for nearly 30 years at Gainesville High School.

She began her career at GHS teaching German and French at the school, then added history classes. She now teaches Advanced Placement European History, but continues to work with the school’s German Club and a variety of other campus organizations. She’s also been active in the community, doing everything from cooking meals for the homeless to working with the Cub Scouts.

“I like to learn myself, and I like sharing that learning with other people,” she said in the release. I think the best teachers are good students, and I learn so much from my students.”

Gainesville High School Principal David Shelnutt describes Ried as a hard-working and passionate teacher who uses discussions as a teaching method.

“Ms. Ried does a wonderful job of representing the teachers here at Gainesville High School,” Shelnutt said. “She is very, very well-liked by students and certainly her colleagues.”

Forty-one teachers will be honored at the Robert W. Hughes Alachua County Teacher Recognition event, which is named after the former Alachua County school superintendent who established the program.

Each honoree will receive a cash award and other gifts donated by local individuals, organizations and business. The Robert W. Hughes Alachua County Teacher Recognition event is being sponsored by Florida Credit Union, Cox Communications and Gatorland Family of Dealerships, which will also be presenting the district Teacher of the Year with the key to a new Toyota Prius.

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