Officials for Pinellas Schools and the Pinellas Education Foundation surprised 10 district employees last week with the news that they were finalists for the 2013-14 Outstanding Educator of the Year award.
The finalists were among 80 nominations received earlier this year and were selected based on several criteria by a panel of judges. Over the next few weeks, they will undergo a second round of interviews and will be scored by a different panel of judges.
The winner will be announced Feb. 18 during the annual Evening of Excellence at Mahaffey Theater.
The finalists are:
Sarah Borchardt, a fifth-grade teacher at Starkey Elementary in Seminole who works with students who are gifted, have special needs and are learning English.
Susan Carney, a kindergarten teacher at Ozona Elementary School in Palm Harbor.
Melissa Colgan, a special needs teacher at Largo Middle School.
Kevin Ford, a band director and founder of the Leadership Conservatory for the Arts at Tarpon Springs High School.
Diana Harper, a fourth-grade teacher at Dunedin Elementary School.
Stephanie Martanovic, a seventh-grade civics teacher at Safety Harbor Middle School.
Tracey Raecek, an algebra teacher at Osceola Fundamental High School in Seminole.
Robert Sinibaldi, a PE teacher who works with special needs students at Walsingham Elementary in Largo.
Monica Taylor, a media specialist at Woodlawn Elementary School in St. Petersburg.
Gisela Torres, a Spanish teacher for the International Baccalaureate program at St. Petersburg High School.