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Three Pasco teacher of the year finalists announced

The winner will find out with a surprise visit later in the school year.

Each year the Pasco County school district, like others across the state, recognizes its top educators for the work they do for their students, school and community.

One of them becomes the district Teacher of the Year, with the chance to compete for the statewide honor. (In 2016, Marchman Technical teacher Don Blake became Pasco’s first state finalist for the award.)

A review committee met this week to consider the award winners from each of the district’s schools, and announced the three finalists Thursday. They are:

Jennifer Dixon, Gulf High School — Dixon is a social studies teacher whose classes include psychology and economics. She also has taught professional development courses for Chinese teachers of English in China.

Joel Santos Gonzalez, Gulf Middle School — Gonzalez is Gulf Middle’s Spanish teacher for the past five years. He recently battled cancer, and used his experiences to teach students other life lessons as well.

Patty Hanley, Krinn Technical High School — Hanley is a teacher in the school’s Transition program, which serves students with disabilities aged 18-22 as they gain skills to work and participate in the community.

The winner will be selected after the review committee gets a chance to observe each finalist in school. Last year, the announcement came as a team made a surprise visit to Holly Mickler’s Pasco Middle classroom.