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HEY, TEACHERS, YOU ROCK!

Even if we say "we can't WAIT until we get out of high school," every one of us has had those "wow" moments in a classroom, thanks to an extraordinary teacher. A teacher who made learning fun, a teacher who helped us understand the most confounding concept, a teacher who, uncannily, seemed to know exactly when we needed encouragement or a listening ear, even when it had nothing to do with homework. - Today, in preparation for next week's National Teacher Appreciation Week (see Page 10), we honor all teachers, with a special shout-out to the 2013 winners of tb-two*s My Teacher Kicks Asterisk terrific teacher contest. This year 52 students wrote us about fabulous educators in the Tampa Bay area. That they took time to nominate says a lot about the teachers they recommended. - It was tough to choose three to receive our prize, a basket of goodies including a restaurant gift certificate and tickets to a Tampa Bay Rays game, but we buckled down and did it. - tb-two* loves teachers, the winners and finalists here, as well as the rest of the cool teaching contingent around Tampa Bay.

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Hillsborough Winner: Frank Lane, Durant High

Teaches: U.S. History

Pop quiz!

WHY DID YOU BECOME A TEACHER?

I love being a positive influence to students.

FUN FACT ABOUT YOU THAT YOUR STUDENTS DON'T KNOW?

I had the opportunity this past fall to experience a University of Georgia football game from the sidelines. There, I got to meet some of my influences as a football coach and players that I respect.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU TAUGHT?

I have taught reading and U.S. history at Durant for two years

GIVE AN EXAMPLE OF SOMETHING THAT'S HAPPENED IN YOUR CLASSROOM THAT MAKES YOU SAY, "THIS IS WHY I TEACH."

When a struggling student, who has never been successful in reading, finishes a book for the first time.

Why he's fabulous:

Mr. Lane is a good teacher because he can get to the point of the lesson, make it interesting, and I understand it the way he puts things. He makes it like we were there and not reading the book. :) - Hannah Larry, junior

Mr. Lane can actually teach a class and make it fun! - Laura Pacheco, junior

Mr. Lane helps in all ways. - Nathan Wright, junior

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Pinellas Winner: Kathy Gavin, Seminole High

Teaches: Center for Education Leadership, Child Development

Pop quiz!

WHY DID YOU BECOME A TEACHER?So that I could share my love of learning with my students. I feel my job is to teach my students skills and knowledge which they can take with them into the real world to help themselves and others.

FUN FACT ABOUT YOU THAT YOUR STUDENTS DON'T KNOW?I used to have an English Toffee candy business named "Konfections by Kathy."

HOW LONG HAVE YOU TAUGHT? 29 years

GIVE AN EXAMPLE OF SOMETHING THAT'S HAPPENED IN YOUR CLASSROOM THAT MAKES YOU SAY, "THIS IS WHY I TEACH."When my leadership students (who are now juniors) began taking the initiative to plan and coordinate guest speakers, field trips, panel discussions and other school events. They are school leaders and will undoubtedly be using their leadership skills in the future to make the world a better place!

Why she's fabulous:

Mrs. Gavin, the original teacher and coordinator for the Center for Education and Leadership . . . comes up with really creative lesson plans! Mrs. Gavin creates a calm learning environment that has become my favorite class in high school. I am positive that everyone else in CEL would agree with me that Mrs. Gavin is awesome! - Rachel Porter, junior

She teaches me so much every day. Her class is the only class that I feel would be useful in the real world. I look forward to going to her class every day. - Hannah Bauerlein, freshman

Mrs. Gavin is not just a teacher, she is someone you can have an everyday conversation with and someone you can talk to when you have a problem. She is always open ears, and ready to lend you her advice. - Sydni Sands, junior

Mrs. Gavin is my most favorite teacher that I have ever had. She truly cares if you succeed in school and life and will go out of her way to help you. I feel like I can go to her anytime for advice even if the subject of it doesn't pertain to her, she will still listen and give her opinion and help you in any way she can. - Nick Borries, junior

Mrs. Gavin is so interactive with us, and up for just about anything, that just about everyone loves her. We all think of her as a great role model. She is always here to teach us something new and help with any problem. I couldn't ask for a better leader for CEL. - Emily Sapp, junior

Mrs. Gavin is the most caring teacher I know. If I have a problem I know I can always come to her. Not only is she a great person, she also is a wonderful teacher and I learn the most in her class. - Hollis Cato, junior

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Pasco Winner: Susan Hoffacker, Fivay High

Teaches: English Honors, AP Literature

Pop quiz!

WHY DID YOU BECOME A TEACHER?

I had a dynamic second grade teacher who inspired me, and I knew from that time that I would be a teacher, too.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU TAUGHT?

I have been in education 17 years.

FUN FACT ABOUT YOU THAT YOUR STUDENTS DON'T KNOW?

At one time, I had 28 cats!

GIVE AN EXAMPLE OF SOMETHING THAT'S HAPPENED IN YOUR CLASSROOM THAT MAKES YOU SAY, "THIS IS WHY I TEACH."

Once I had a student who would not verbally communicate with me; however, when we began our poetry unit, she communicated through her verse. Her poems were cathartic, and revealed much about the type of young lady she was and why she was so quiet.

Why she's fabulous:

Mrs. Hoffacker is an amazing teacher! She has taught me more about grammar, vocabulary, drama, and other literary elements than any teacher I've had. Mrs. Hoffacker is very organized, and she always has a smile on her face. She demonstrates that her number one goal is for us to succeed.

- Nominated by Tristan Schurdell, freshman

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WHY ISN'T IT EVERY DAY?

National Teacher Appreciation Week is observed in the United States during the first full week in May (this year May 6-10), with National Teacher Day the Tuesday of that week. Its origins are attributed to first lady Eleanor Roosevelt lobbying the 81st Congress in 1953 to establish a national day to honor the contributions of educators, with the National Education Association and National PTA cementing the full week beginning in 1985.

Supporters acknowledge that teachers always deserve our respect and gratitude, but calling out special attention during one week every year helps remind us of the incredible role teachers play in our lives.

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Hillsborough finalists

Bloomingdale High

James Anteau, TV Production Nominated by Aaliyah Kindred, junior

Durant High

Cheryl Reve, Science Nominated by CJ Garcia, junior

Hillsborough High

Mike Mikulec, European History Nominated by Benjamin Muschol, junior

Monarch School

Christopher Derk, Math, Science, Health, PENominated by Emily Arnold, sophomore

Plant High

Derek Thomas, English II Honors, AP English

Nominated by Christina Tamargo, senior

Robinson High

Maureen Pelamati, AP English Nominated by Keith Baldwin, junior

Simmons Career Center

Ryan Black, Technology Resource Nominated by Brianna Sanchez, senior

Laurel Simpson, Alternative Ed Nominated by Branco Chavez, freshman; Juan de la Cruz, freshman

Tampa Catholic

Rod Sterns, U.S. HistoryNominated by Alexandra Posada, senior

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Pasco finalists

Fivay High

Jayme D'Avanzo, Multimedia ProductionsNominated by Tommy Henthorne, junior

Lisa Hope, Biology and Environmental Science Nominated by Amberlee Colon, junior

Alex Ledford, History, AP Euro Nominated by Josh Ortiz, junior

Scott Nissen, World History Nominated by Dana Sterneman, sophomore

William Toms, Theater and English Nominated by Lonny Eichhorn, sophomore

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Pinellas finalists

Countryside High

Margaret Trautwein, English, Journalism Nominated by Briana Dilworth, junior; Angela Booth, sophomore

Dixie Hollins High

Jennifer Sinphay, Algebra and Cambridge Programs Nominated by Joey Escolano, senior

Lakewood High

Linda Santiago, Spanish Nominated by Caroline Dunning, sophomore

Largo High

Brian Morrison, AVID Nominated by Diamond Tellis, senior; Iryna Trotsyuk, senior

Osceola fundamental High

Debra Rein, TV Production, Show Class Nominated by Jenna Jean, senior

Pinellas Park High

Nicole Butler, Extended Learning Program Nominated by Brenda Guerrero, sophomore

Cynthia Freed, Reading, English, SAT Prep, AP Literature and Composition, Speech Nominated by Ivana Ignjatic, junior; Jonaleah Carrow, junior

St. Petersburg High

Warren Hunnicutt, Biology Nominated by Adela Lilollari, junior

Tracey Keim, Intro to Info Tech Nominated by Logan Pratt, sophomore

Hugo Adalbert St. John III, Pre-IB English Nominated by Max Asayesh-Brown, sophomore

Seminole High

Marsha Carlson, Math Nominated by Amanda Hill, junior

Mark DeRuzzo, Softball and Weight Training Nominated by Nicolette Myers, junior

Rich Lally, American History Honors Nominated by Jessica Bandoni, junior

Lisa Pritchard, English Nominated by Genevieve Ulm, junior

Zaira Schnake, Algebra and Calculus Nominated by Emily Tharp, junior

Laurie Vaughn, Chemistry Nominated by Michael DeLeon, junior; Mikayla Bridges, junior; Sarah Raines, junior

Leah Wall, Earth/Space, Marine Science Nominated by Vivian Crooks, junior

Susan Wolodkowicz, Biology Honors Nominated by Tanner Cowan, junior; Mitch Yancar, freshman; Ian Grabo, freshman; Catherine McClure, freshman

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