Teacher of the Year finalists announced

Three teachers were surprised the morning of January 26, 2012, when an entourage led by Superintendent Michael Lannon, school board members, district administrators and representatives of the St. Lucie County Education Foundation visited their classrooms to announce their selection as finalists for the 2013 St. Lucie County Public Schools Teacher of the Year.

The finalists are: Karen-Lee Crosby, pre-kindergarten teacher at Lawnwood Elementary School; Natasha Santoro, second grade teacher at Rivers Edge Elementary School; and Mary Jo Trubisky, Exceptional Student Education teacher at Windmill Point Elementary School.

The difficult task of selecting the finalists was determined by a committee of former Teachers of the Year, principals, and district administrators. The finalists will be visited in the coming weeks in their classrooms for committee members to observe their classroom instruction. The local announcements are always in the year prior to the beginning of the state Teacher of the Year reign due to the duration of the statewide selection process.


Karen-Lee Crosby has been with St. Lucie County Schools for seven years, all of those at Lawnwood Elementary School as either a kindergarten or pre-kindergarten teacher. She previously served as a teacher at a faith-based school in Sandwich, Massachusetts, and a field hockey coach at the junior high school there.

One of the more innovative instructional practices Ms. Crosby utilizes is student-led conferences, where four year old children present a portfolio of their student work through the year to their parents, a departure from the typical parent-teacher conference. Through intentional design of lessons, pre-kindergarten students are involved in lessons that allow them to explore, question and develop fluency in math, science, reading and literacy

Ms. Crosby currently serves on her school’s Building Level Planning Team, is the Sunshine Committee co-chair, has been a Professional Learning Communities facilitator, has been on the school’s WOW design team and safety committee. She is one of three teachers to serve on a Pre-Kindergarten Collaborative Committee bringing school based teachers together with Head Start and private pre-school providers to identify and develop best practices for early childhood education.


Natasha Santoro has been teaching for 15 years in St. Lucie County Schools as a teacher at Rivers Edge Elementary in a variety of grade levels, except for one year in 2008-2009 when she served as a math coach for two elementary schools mentoring teachers on the newly adopted math curriculum. Ms. Santoro holds a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, and she also has a Master’s degree in Instructional Technology. She has served as a mentor for education majors at Florida Atlantic University, beginning teachers, struggling teachers, and those earning their national board certification.

With her familiarity with instructional technology, Ms. Santoro has provided guidance and professional development to peers in utilizing the ThinkCentral technology, video conferencing and other classroom technologies. She regularly provides in-service to fellow teachers on the Marzano framework, and is a Learning Community facilitator. She has also presented at many education conferences, particularly in her mathematics specialty.

Ms. Santoro finds time to serve her community as well, volunteering and serving Children’s Home Society, the Hibiscus Children’s Center, PACE Center for Girls, Harvest Food & Outreach Center, and many other family centered organizations.


Mary Joann Trubisky is described as a Leader! Believer! Treasure Hunter! Motivator! Ms. Trubisky has been serving exceptional education students for over 25 years, the last decade at Windmill Point Elementary School. She earned her national board certification as an Exceptional Needs Specialist, Early Childhood through Young Adulthood certification in 2005. She has been at Windmill Point Elementary School since 2000, as an exceptional education teacher for K-fifth grade students. Her purpose has been to adapt and modify regular education curriculum for students with various exceptionalities within integrated classrooms – and she has the incredible success record of assisting 70 percent of the struggling third and fourth grade student she worked with passing the reading FCAT with a 2 or higher.

Ms. Trubisky shares her instructional expertise by mentoring student interns, as well as rookie teachers. She is also a member of a learning community and research team for the school participating in Lesson Study for the school, and has planned and facilitated numerous professional development and student activities supporting her work in these initiatives.

Aside from her teaching responsibilities, Ms. Trubisky is the school’s Positive Behavior Support Coordinator, Kids at Hope coordinator, and RtIB liaison, all initiatives outside of her classroom duties that nonetheless support personal, emotional, and instructional support for students. She is credited with Windmill Point Elementary’s school-wide PBS plan that yielded the lowest referral and discipline rates within St. Lucie County Schools for several years and the school being recognized as a model PBS school.

The 2013 Teacher of the Year and 2012 School-Related Employee of the Year, which are statewide programs, as well as the two local school district employee recognitions of Distinguished Minority Educator of the Year and Outstanding First Year Teacher, will be announced Saturday, February 25, 2012, at the “Night of the Stars” celebration held at Lincoln Park Academy. The Grand Benefactor is Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and the event sponsored by the St. Lucie County School District the St. Lucie County Education Foundation. the Teacher of the Year award is sponsored by The Morganti Group, the School Related Employee of the Year is sponsored by the St. Lucie County Education Foundation, the Outstanding First Year Teacher award is sponsored by Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies, and the Distinguished Minority Educator award is sponsored by Keiser University.

Pictured is Education Foundation president Michael Waninger congratulating Mary Joann Trubisky.