Palm Beach County teacher of the year announced

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - Wellington— Kristen Rulison's passion for teaching was rewarded Tuesday with a new title: Palm Beach County of the Year.

Acting Superintendent Bill Malone delivered the news, along with balloons and roses, during a surprise visit to Rulison's third-grade classroom at Elbridge Gale Elementary School in Wellington.

"I'm very honored," said Rulison, 28, who is finishing her sixth year as an educator. "I can't even imagine being teacher of the year of the whole county."

Principal Gail Pasterczyk praised Rulison as an amazingly talented reading and language-arts teacher with a gift for raising achievement among both struggling and advanced students.

Rulison puts in extra hours tutoring students an hour before school starts three days a week, and as sponsor of an after-school dance club.

"I knew when I first saw her she was a superstar," said Pasterczyk, who hired Rulison at a teacher career fair.

District administrators selected Rulison for the award after reviewing nominations from principals from most campuses. Applicants must demonstrate an ability to improve student learning and perform as campus leaders, among other criteria.

As the county choice for the Florida Department of Education-Macy's Teacher of the Year 2012 Program, Rulison will get $750 from Macy's. Her school will receive $250.

Rulison now is in the running for the top state award, to be announced in July, Malone said. The Florida Teacher of the Year receives $10,000 from Macy's, and four other finalists get $5,000 each. Macy's also gives $1,000 to the finalists' schools to be used for educational programs.

Rulison's husband joined Malone and other school district officials for Tuesday's impromptu ceremony. Tommy Rulison teaches physical education at Osceola Creek Middle School in Loxahatchee. The couple, who are expecting their first child this summer, live in Royal Palm Beach.

Copyright © 2011, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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