Tracy Staley told a crowd in Orlando on Thursday that if she became Florida's Teacher of the Year she would use the statewide platform to help retain teachers and inspire others to teach.
"My fear is that people won't want to teach anymore," said Staley, a finalist for the statewide honor and Pinellas County's Teacher of the Year. "The impact you have with people's lives. … I would love to share that message with the state of Florida."
The fifth-grade math and science teacher didn't win — Broward County teacher Alvin Davis, 35, did — but that was fine with Staley's boss.
"The good news for me and for my school is that she won't be gone for a year traveling," said Thea Saccasyn, principal at Ponce de Leon Elementary School in Clearwater. She was among a group of 20 colleagues and relatives who cheered for Staley in Orlando.
"She's an amazing teacher, and I'm so proud to have her around my staff," Saccasyn said.
Pinellas County school superintendent Julie Janssen said of Staley, "She will always be a winner."
Staley, 28, was among five finalists for the statewide award. In 2010, Megan Allen, a Hillsborough County teacher, was Florida's Teacher of the Year.