ORLANDO — A Palm Harbor Middle School math instructor will learn tonight if she's the top teacher in the state.
Vanessa Ko is among five candidates for Florida's Teacher of the Year, which will be announced tonight during an annual award gala at Universal Studios Orlando.
The winner will be announced Thursday during an annual award gala at Universal Studios Orlando.
Ko began her career in the Pinellas school system 13 years ago at Palm Harbor Middle, teaching math and AVID classes. Along the way, she has become a district pioneer for the AVID program, which, according to the district, aims to "close the achievement gap by preparing all students for college readiness and success in a global society."
Ko was named the Pinellas Outstanding Educator of the Year in January.
The other finalists: Katelyn Fiori from Vero Beach Elementary School; mathematics teacher Tammy Jerkins from Leesburg High School; exceptional education teacher Diego Fuentes from Hillcrest School in Marion County; and Michael Miller from Kissimmee Elementary School.
The Teacher of the Year winner will receive $25,000 from the Florida Department of Education and Macy's, as well as an all-expense-paid trip for four to New York City to attend the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Macy's also is providing the winner with a $1,000 clothing allowance.
Each finalist's school also will receive $1,000 from Macy's.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.