Published February 24, 2015
After five teachers received the surprise of their teaching careers on Feb 4th when they became Golden Apple recipients and finalists for Marion County’s 2015 Teacher of the Year, the winner was announced today. Sponsored by the Public Education Foundation of Marion County, this is the 25th year Golden Apples have been handed out to local teachers. Recipients have more than three years of classroom teaching experience. Five received Golden Apples, and Bethany Crawford was named Teacher of the Year. Schools also submitted 47 rookie teachers; 10 were interviewed and five observed in the classroom, with one receiving the top honor. Dozens of people including Superintendent George Tomyn, Foundation Executive Director Judi Zanetti, School Board Members Carol Ely and Kelly King, and others caravanned to each school this morning to surprise those best representing the Marion County teaching profession.
This year’s teacher of the year finalists included (alphabetical by school):
• Christina Etts, Dr. NH Jones Elementary – A Vanguard High School graduate, Etts started her teaching career in Marion County in 1997 as a kindergarten teacher at Oakcrest Elementary. She moved to Dr. NH Jones Elementary in 1998 and currently teaches fifth grade. Her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and master’s in educational leadership come from St. Leo University.
• Beth Lazar, Evergreen Elementary – Lazar started her career with Marion County Public Schools in 2010 as a science teacher at Osceola Middle School. She later worked in the district’s Federal Programs Office and returned to the classroom in 2013 as a reading coach at Evergreen Elementary. Lazar earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and her master’s in educational leadership from Furman University.
• Bethany Crawford, Forest High – A North Marion High School graduate, Crawford holds two degrees from the University of Florida – a bachelor’s in history and master’s in secondary social studies education. She joined the district in 1997 as a social studies teacher at North Marion High School then left to teach in Pittsburgh and Rhode Island. She returned to MCPS in 2009 as a social studies teacher at Forest High School and today teaches Advanced Placement classes there.
• Dwayne Molock, Greenway Elementary – Molock graduated with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Bethune-Cookman College and a master’s in educational leadership from the University of New England. He joined Marion County Public Schools in 2006 as a fifth-grade teacher at Hammett Bowen Jr. Elementary School. He moved to Marion Oaks Elementary School two years later, then to Greenway Elementary in 2012 as a first-grade teacher.
• Aisha Shaheed, Howard Middle – A North Marion High School graduate, Shaheed teaches math at Howard Middle School. She joined the district in 2012 and holds two degrees from the University of South Florida – a bachelor’s in biomedical sciences and a master’s in medical science.
As well, Matthew Binkley, Evergreen Elementary, was named Marion County’s 2015 Rookie Teacher of the Year. Binkley graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s in elementary education. He started with the district in 2011 as a kindergarten teacher at Emerald Shores Elementary and moved to Evergreen Elementary as a fifth grade teacher in 2013, the position he currently holds. Rookies have no more than three years of teaching experience.
Schools submitted 52 teachers of the year; 15 were interviewed, and eight were personally observed in the classroom by the selection committee.
Marion County’s 2015 Teacher of the Year was announced at the Golden Apple Teacher Recognition Gala this past Friday, February 20, at On Top of the World’s Circle Square Cultural Center. Marion County’s 2015 Teacher of the Year will also receive a 2015 Mazda 6 from Jenkins Auto Group in Ocala for three years. Jenkins will pay the lease agreement for that time. The black-tie gala affair will be televised live on the Marion Education Channel and replayed through February and March each Friday and Saturday at 7PM and Sundays at 2PM. The Marion Education Channel is available on Bright House 198 (496 as of March 2, 2015), Comcast 99, Cox 12, and digital channel 7.1 over-the-air. As well, the MEC airs on a handful of local cable companies.