ORLANDO, Fla. - Osceola Magnet School teacher Cheryl Conley was named the state’s top teacher of the year Thursday.
A stunned Conley put her hands to her face when her name was called.
“I was so surprised. I absolutely did not see this coming,” Conley said.
The 2011 Florida Teacher of the Year was announced at Hard Rock Live! at Universal Studios City Walk, Orlando. Conley was one of five regional finalists for the state honor.
Congratulating Conley was her husband, Brett, and her children, Matthew, 9, and Brooke, 6, who jumped out of their seats in celebration.
“It's very exciting,” said Brooke. “We get to celebrate with our mom.”
The family spent the day at Universal Studios, but both children said their mom winning the state award topped the day at the theme park.
“She worked really hard for this,” Brooke said.
During the event, a video presentation of life in Conley's classroom was shown, along with other videos of all finalists. Students explained how Conley's hands-on experiments and enthusiasm by dressing as a pirate or Albert Einstein to drive home a lesson made her such a great teacher.
"I think every student can learn, every student can learn differently. That's what keeps me going," Conley said in the video. "I have passion for my job."
The theme of the ceremony was "Thanks to You," and teachers were thanked many times for their service.
"We are in awe of you," said journalist Deborah Norville, the master of ceremonies for the event.
Conley is Indian River County’s first state teacher of the year since 1998, when Beachland Elementary teacher Margaret Myrick Ingram won the honor.
Conley has taught fourth grade at Osceola for three years. She is the school’s science coordinator, school advisory committee member and science club advisor. Prior to coming to Indian River County, Conley taught middle school science for seven years in Texas.
As the state's teacher of the year, Conley will be the ambassador for the state for the next school year. She said she would miss her classroom and seeing her students. But, she said, she was excited about spreading the good news about teaching across the state.
“I feel ready to go out and do something,” Conley said.
Martin County's Thomas Doughty and St. Lucie's Teresa Sullivan were recognized along with other district teachers of the year at the ceremony.
Copyright (c) 2010 The E. W. Scripps Company
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