Three teachers were named as finalists for St. Lucie Public Schools (SLPS) Teacher of the Year during surprise announcements on Monday, January 22nd. Luca Bradley (Fort Pierce Central High School), Luke Hall (Treasure Coast High School), and Samantha Lamora (Savanna Ridge Elementary School) reveled in the news from delegates representing SLPS, School Board, St. Lucie County Education Foundation, and MidFLORIDA Credit Union.
SLPS Superintendent E. Wayne Gent said, “Our Teacher of the Year finalists are outstanding individuals who are stand-outs in their profession. These are the individuals students grow up to remember as that ‘special someone’ who made a difference in their lives. They positively impact the lives of our young people by seeing them as individuals, building up their strengths, and helping them achieve lofty goals.”
Locally, one of the three finalists will be selected as the SLPS Teacher of the Year during the Night of the Stars gala scheduled for February 10, 2018, at Lincoln Park Academy’s auditorium in Fort Pierce. This person will then represent SLPS in the Florida Department of Education – Macy’s Teacher of the Year program.
The local Night of the Stars annual event is sponsored by the Education Foundation of St. Lucie County. Thom Jones, president of the Foundation, explained that MIDFLORIDA Credit Union is the sponsor of the local Teacher of the Year category. “This is an especially exciting year. Through our generous sponsor, we have been able to go above and beyond expectations, and we will honor our winners with very special recognitions this year.”
The State’s Teacher of the Year Program is a long-standing tradition that recognizes and honors the contributions of outstanding classroom teachers who have demonstrated a superior capacity to inspire a love of learning in students of all backgrounds and abilities. The State finalist for The Florida Teacher of the Year also serves as the Christa McAuliffe Ambassador for Education and represents the Florida Department of Education and teachers throughout Florida.
About the Teacher of the Year Finalists
Luca Bradley is a social studies teacher at Fort Pierce Central High School where he serves in multiple capacities beyond the classroom including soccer coach, teacher mentor, and curriculum specialist. Serving in this capacity was what he longed to do as a child, and happily, he brought that dream to a reality four years ago by returning to his alma mater to teach. He feels it is his duty to help his students fulfill their quest for knowledge, inspire their dreams, and influence their livelihoods. Through partnerships with various local organizations, he has also developed opportunities for his students and their families to learn more about and interact with the community and its rich history.
In the words of his principal, Bradley, creates critical thinkers who use knowledge gained in his classes to facilitate the acquisition of skills necessary to be self-sufficient learners. His students demonstrate mastery as measured by the U.S. History EOC and AP History Examination. Although Bradley’s students have seen exponential growth and success in their test scores, his influence is not solely limited to academics. He strives to create an environment in which his students connect content with real life experiences.
With 14 years of experience in education, Luke Hall is an arts educator who serves as the band director at Treasure Coast High School. The growth of his students inspires him, and he also finds working with the music program as a collection of large ensembles equally as rewarding in that it provides an avenue for positively influencing the community. During his six years as the Titan Band Director, the program has grown from 60 to nearly 200 students. He also launched a chorus program; organized a successful booster program; and the various bands, ensembles, and color guards proudly boast outstanding ratings at district and State Music Performance Assessments (MPAs).
More importantly, Hall is pleased that the band program has provided the opportunity for his students to become active members in civic pageantry and community events. Titan bands and ensembles have participated in a wide array of events ranging from local parades to the wreath laying ceremony at the Arlington National Cemetery. According to his principal, Hall spends many hours on community-based activities, as he is an ambassador for SLPS. He also holds his students to high expectations, not only with their music performance, but academically and behaviorally as well, for they too are our ambassadors.
Samantha Lamora is a first grade teacher at Savanna Ridge Elementary School with five years of teaching experience. For her, stepping into the role of a teacher is an answer to a lifetime career calling she deems “magical.” She enjoys helping students set goals and working with them to achieve their goals. Lamora is inspired by her students desire to learn, grow, and celebrate their own successes. With proficiency rates spiraling upward into the nineties on the most recent math unit assessment in mathematics and writing scores improving by 57 percent, there is certainly cause to celebrate.
The cornerstone philosophy of her classroom is “family” where she begins by establishing solid partnerships between home and school and continues with nurturing respectful relationships among students in the classroom to support academic and behavioral progress. In the spirit of working collaboratively with her colleagues, she also helps produce a weekly newsletter to streamline communication from school to home. Lamora’s principal lauds her as a dedicated professional whose strong belief that she can be the difference in the life of a child and an influencer in the community speaks volumes to her commitment.
About St. Lucie Public Schools
St. Lucie Public Schools (SLPS) proudly serves students as the highest-ranking District on the Treasure Coast with a graduation rate of 91.0 percent. As a B rated District, there are no failing schools, and SLPS has the distinction of being recognized as one of St. Lucie County’s Best Places to Work. The mission of SLPS is to ensure all students graduate from safe and caring schools equipped with the knowledge, skills and desire to succeed. For more information, visit http://www.stlucieschools.org.