TARPON SPRINGS — A Pinellas County band director recently named the district's Outstanding Educator of the Year is in the running for the statewide title, school officials announced Monday.
Kevin Ford, the band director at Tarpon Springs High School, is one of five finalists to be the state's 2015 Teacher of the Year.
Ford, 46, created the Leadership Conservatory for the Arts magnet program at Tarpon and has led the school's band to six national championships. He has taught in Pinellas for 20 years.
"Mr. Ford is the epitome of a master teacher," superintendent Mike Grego said in a statement. "The creative and energetic learning environment he provides for his students instills a passion in them to be successful."
Before being named Pinellas's top educator of 2014, Ford was a finalist in 1998, and received the title of Tarpon Springs Community Teacher of the Year in 1996 and 1997. He was also the 1997 Tarpon Springs High School Teacher of the Year, and in 2012, the city declared Sept. 22 as Kevin Ford Day.
Beyond his local recognition, Ford was one of seven educators selected in 2009 to go to Washington, D.C. and serve on the Music Educators National Conference Blue Ribbon Panel. That year, Tarpon's marching band received the international John Philip Sousa Sudler Shield Award, recognizing "marching bands of world class excellence."
The Florida Department of Education runs the teacher of the year program along with Macy's. Ford received $5,000 and Tarpon Springs High received $1,000 Monday from the Macy's Foundation. Ford also received a $500 Macy's gift card.
The state has yet to name the remaining four finalists. The winner will be announced July at an awards gala.
Contact Lisa Gartner at email@example.com. You can follow her on Twitter @lisagartner.