Region 2 | Susan Pomeroy, 51
School: Azalea Elementary, St. Petersburg
Education: Bachelor's degree in elementary education and master's in reading instruction, University of South Florida
Susan Pomeroy remembers the years she was in school — the discipline problems, the lack of motivation, the constant feeling of wanting to be somewhere else.
So now she is patient while teaching third-grade students who are struggling academically at Azalea Elementary. They're not motivated, they think they can't do the work, sometimes they think there's something wrong with them, but "I don't let them fail," said Pomeroy.
She teaches the STARS (Students Targeted for Achievement, Recognition and Success) program, which helps elementary students who are at a high risk of failure strengthen their academic skills and increase self-esteem.
Each year, Pomeroy has about 16 struggling students, and each year her students must pass the third-grade FCAT in order to move on to fourth grade, as required by Florida law.
She stays after school and tutors students for free. Sometimes she tutors on the weekend, even former students who still need help.
By the end of the year, they all make it.
"This is my seventh year teaching STARS, and none of my kids have been held back," Pomeroy, who has been teaching for 26 years, said. "I've had 100 percent success."
Pomeroy is always researching different strategies and techniques she could use to help her students learn. She shares them with her teammates.
"If we don't get these kids ready early on in elementary school, they will be set up for failure," she said.
Susan Boyd, principal of Azalea, nominated Pomeroy for Outstanding Educator of the Year. She calls Pomeroy an inspiring, passionate and humble individual.
"Every single kid that comes into her classroom is below expectation in school," said Boyd. "But little by little, inch by inch, she turns those kids around."
Sabrina Rocco, Times staff writer