Ponce de Leon Elementary honors Pinellas teacher of the year Tracy Staley

Pinellas County 2011 Outstanding Educator Tracy Staley got a hero's welcome when she stepped from a limousine as she arrived for work Wednesday morning at Ponce de Leon Elementary in Clearwater.

Staley, a 28-year-old math and science teacher with five years on the job, was crowned Tuesday in a red carpet gala at a packed Ruth Eckerd Hall.

"I'm here today because I've been supported my entire life, but I know that's not the case for all my students," she said as she accepted the award. "That's why I want to teach. I want to be that one person who tells my students 'I love you, I know you can succeed, and I'm going to show you how to succeed.' "

Staley, a graduate of St. Petersburg College, began teaching at Sandy Lane Elementary in 2006, and moved over to Ponce De Leon a year later. She's credited with juggling her classroom duties with exceptional grant writing. Staley won a $2,442 grant this year that will allow her students to plant a water-conserving garden on campus using rain barrels for irrigation.

The award is presented by the Pinellas Education Foundation.

Times staff writers Luis Perez and Theodora Aggeles contributed to this story.

Ponce de Leon Elementary honors Pinellas teacher of the year Tracy Staley 03/02/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 2, 2011 9:37am]

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