STUART, Fla. — Friday night, the Education Foundation of Martin County passed out three Teacher of the Year awards.
24 nominees competed for the top spots for the award that recognizes outstanding teaching, with one winner advancing to compete against all the other districts in the summer of 2024.
"Friday night we celebrated all of our teachers all of our schools came together to celebrate each other for all the tremendous work that our teachers do every day in the classroom," said Lisa Rhodes, executive director for the Education Foundation of Martin County.
There is an award for elementary, middle and high school levels.
Martin County Teacher of the Year winners:
- Joy Kastanias, Treasure Coast Classical Academy
- Kyle Gorton, South Fork High School
- Joshua Perry, Crystal Lake Elementary School
"[Kyle Gorton is] a math teacher at South Fork High School and totally embodies school spirit at our school, and so deserving of this honor and award. She wears so many hats. Coach, class sponsor, you name it," said South Fork High School principal Jaime Thompson.
"I think the best moment was just having the peers at my school, nominate me to represent them and then to sit on the stage with 24 Amazing candidates," said Gorton, who won the Teacher of the Year award in the High School category.
Joy Kastanias won the Teacher of the Year award in the middle school category. Kastanias is a sixth grade teacher and coach of the robotics program.
"It's an honor. It's wonderful to be able to represent all the teachers the amazing people that we shared a stage with it was just such an exciting night," said Kastanias.
Brenda Watkins is the principle at Crystal Lake Elementary School and raved about her school's winner in the elementary category.
"Where do I begin to talk about Joshua Perry? Joshua Perry started as a student teacher at our school, and we hired him on and he's been with us since he coaches inside and outside of the school. He also runs clubs, and he has a Martin County product of the schools," Watkins said.
"I'm really excited. It's gonna’ be great to go against all the winners of the district in Florida," said Perry.
Perry said he hopes to inspire other teachers.
"That's honestly one of the biggest things that I've put in my portfolio. I just want to bring more teachers to the profession and just help it grow. I just want to put us put us on blast essentially," Perry said. "Making the teachers feel confident about themselves with their teaching styles and being able to make relationships with the kids and that's that's just the biggest thing overall."
Out of the 24 schools that were at the award ceremony, Bessey Creek Elementary won the Spirit Award which was based on their ant theme, costumes, props and enthusiasm supporting their nominee.