When the leaders of the new Weeki Wachee High School began filling faculty spots last year, Angela Kennedy was the first teacher hired. • On Friday night, Kennedy lived up to that lofty honor when she became the school's first districtwide Teacher of the Year.
"I wasn't sure if I was hearing it myself or giving myself a party in my head," the 32-year-old English teacher said Monday, recalling her surprise when her name was called at the climax of the event at the Palace Grand.
The party continued Monday as Kennedy returned to Weeki Wachee High. Welcoming her was a red sign flashing her name in front of the new school on U.S. 19.
Principal Dennis McGeehan greeted her and her fellow faculty members saluted her at the morning meeting. Students hugged and high-fived her.
"She teaches us everything we need to know, and she's an awesome teacher," said sophomore Brittany Sehl, 16. "She doesn't say, 'Here you are. Here's work,' she actually teaches it to us."
"She is such a wonderful teacher. She's really good, she's not mean,'' echoed sophomore Kayla Boyle, 15. "She breaks things down for you."
Those skills, and her years as an educator in Hernando County, brought her to the attention of assistant principal Sue Lisk as she was assembling the teaching team at the new school.
"She's the first teacher I hired here," Lisk said. "She's marvelous. When I need somebody, she is available. She never fusses about doing it. She has a lot of responsibilities and she does it well."
Kennedy spent nearly 10 years at Central High School, where she taught a range of English courses. "At Central, I taught everything at grades 9-12, from English I to advanced placement literature," she said.
Kennedy also is the English department chairwoman and the sophomore class sponsor. Weeki Wachee, which opened this school year, only has ninth and 10th grades and will add grades for two years until it has the full four high school grade levels.
She also is the school's improvement chairwoman and mentors three new teachers.
Kennedy also finds time to serve on the Deltona Elementary Title I Committee and is the vice-chairwoman for that school's Advisory Council. Her children Kaitlyn, 7, and Camryn, 9, attend Deltona.
Outside of the school setting, Kennedy is involved in another facet of education as a Hernando Historical Association volunteer. "I do the weekend tours and special events," she said.
Also on her resume, she serves as what she calls the unofficial manager of husband Scott Kennedy's softball team.
Kennedy, who is working on a master's degree in education leadership, said she would like to be a school principal some day and then work at the district level with curriculum.
Kennedy's family was with her at the celebration Friday night when her name was called out from among the 22 honorees nominated for the 2010-2011 Hernando County Teacher of the Year award.
"She deserves it," said Scott Kennedy, who was joined in the cheering section by the talented teacher's mother, Rosemary Norman, her sister Alicia LoBianco, and in-laws Edna and Melvin Kennedy.
Over the weekend, she got yet another surprise. "My in-laws bought me a new dishwasher and a washing machine," she said, smiling.