SPRING HILL — His recognition as Hernando County's 2016 Teacher of the Year already suggests Springstead High School economics and government teacher Brandon Wright knows what he's doing in the classroom. That determination was reinforced March 14 in Tallahassee when Wright accepted the Shine Award from Gov. Rick Scott.
"It's for excellence in teaching," Wright said. "They give it out at the Cabinet meetings each month, and there were three at this meeting. I honestly don't know how I got nominated."
He suspects it might have had to do with his Teacher of the Year designation, as well as his work in professional development.
"I'm involved in Florida Teacher Lead Network," he said, an option open to teachers of the year. "We do a lot of professional development with the Florida Department of Education and the New Teachers Center."
The New Teachers Center, Wright explained, is a private organization based out of California that provides such things as peer coaching and mentoring for teachers. Each member works on an individual action plan for his or her district. Wright's is concerned with establishing a mentoring program for new teachers, which he hopes will be implemented next school year.
Wright, 31, remembers the event in Tallahassee as special, not only for the award, but because his wife, Katie Wright; children, Aiden and Ava; and parents, James and Gina Wright, were able to be there with him. Wright said he picked Aiden up while he was with Scott, and Aiden looked at his father and asked, "Dad, did you get that from the governor?" Then Aiden gave the governor a high five.
The presentation, Wright said, was a pat on the back for him, a chance to meet the governor and see his name on a news release and a medal.
"I thought that was the end of it," Wright said, after he had returned to school. "But (superintendent) Dr. (Lori) Romano, (deputy superintendent) Gina Michalicka and (Springstead principal) Carmine Rufa came in. They had balloons."
They also had made a certificate for Wright with a picture of him and the governor on it.
"It was fun. We got some pictures with my students," he said.
Wright is also active outside of the classroom and his work with the New Teachers Center. He's the boys and girls cross country head coach and the assistant track coach. "Also, I'm the co-department chair for social studies."
He helps with the International Baccalaureate program and sponsors Young Adults Against Cancer, although he admits the students in that group pretty much handle the organization themselves.
"I just kind of give them a place to meet," Wright said.
During this time of year, when his Advanced Placement students are preparing for exams, he offers reviews twice a week, one for economics and the other for government. For students who can't make one of the after-school sessions, he's available on Saturday mornings.
This goes on from spring break until exams are over.
"I figure it's the least I can do," Wright said. "They work hard all year to pass those exams."