2020 Teachers of the Year

Celebrating Nassau's Top Teachers

Nassau County School District is proud of all of our educators. Each year, teachers are nominated and chosen by their colleagues to represent their school as the Teacher of the Year. Below are the selected teachers for each school. These teachers will complete further tasks in hopes of becoming the teacher selected to represent Nassau County School District.

Teachers, thank you for your endless efforts to help our Nassau schools be the

very best they can be! Congratulations!



Natalie Faucher

Years in Education: 25 years
Grade / Subject Level: K-5 Reading

In their own words...

My philosophy on education is simple: Everyone can learn and be better than they were before. I teach because it's the most important thing in this world to do: make a difference in the lives of children. To quote Whitney Houston: "I believe the children are our future: teach them well and let them lead the way." If we do this properly, our world will be greatly impacted. Students come to us, vulnerable and trusting. I will do everything in my power not to squander that privilege that I have to impact their lives by teaching them; not only how to read, but how to be good citizens and care for others.

Michelle Barnes

Years in Education: 12 years
Grade / Subject Level: 1st grade

In their own words...

Teaching to me is about love. I not only love for my students to learn the subject matter. I want them to develop a love for learning. I try to make each day positive and engaging so they remember how they felt and will want that feeling again and again. Sometimes this comes in a lesson and sometimes it just comes from how we interact with each other. I want every student that encounters me to know that I care about them. I care not only about their academics but about who they are. I want them to feel LOVED!

Heather Drury

Years in Education: 14 years

Grade/Subject Level: 5th grade ELA

In their own words...

My teaching philosophy is that all students have the ability to learn and succeed. It is my job to create an environment where they are welcomed, comfortable, and safe. When my classroom has that atmosphere, I can engage all learners through differentiated instruction, reaching them where they are and encouraging and celebrating success!

Stephanie Lundquist

Years in Education: 19 years

Grade / Subject Level: Middle School Math and Science

In their own words...

To learn, students need to DO SOMETHING! If I want my students to learn the facts and concepts that I trying to teach them, they have to experience those things in some way that rises above paper and pencil. My approach to teaching is just that. One of my favorite sounds in class is, “Ah-ha!” There is no better sound than that. Well except for maybe the hard-to-reach kid in class making that same sound.

Katherine Sicotte

Years in Education: 10 years

Grade/Subject Level: 4th Grade ELA

In their own words...

I teach because the students we have today will be the leaders of tomorrow. I try to teach to each individual student. I also try to remember that not all students learn the same so we have to step out of the box and remember that one size does not fit all when it comes to education. We also have to remember that each student is an individual and each one brings something different to our community in the classroom. We have to find what they love and foster it. Each student has a different home life and background. When we meet the needs of the whole student and help them to feel truly comfortable, then we can open their eyes to all they can learn and accomplish.

Evelyn French

Years in Education: 12 years
Grade / Subject Level: 9-12 Media Specialist

In their own words...

Teaching has been the greatest job that I have ever had. I have always loved working with children and young adults. It is such a magical moment when you see the light bulb go off in their eyes and when you realize you are the link they needed to make that happen. In my job as a media specialist and graduation coordinator, I get to work with and know every student in the school. It is not easy remembering all of their names, but I love interacting with all of them and getting to know them and their stories. I believe the media center is the heart of Fernandina Beach High School. It is a place where every student feels welcome and safe to come through the doors, and they know that they are in a judgment-free zone. I'm always there to help them with school work or just to listen if they need to talk or just need a place to come and sit. I am also grateful to be a facilitator for the faculty and staff in their technology and library needs. It has been a total joy to be teaching in Nassau County for twelve years.

Heather Stefanski

Years in Education: 20 years

Grade / Subject Level: 8th Grade ELA

In their own words...

I can’t imagine doing anything other than teaching. I laugh every. single. day. I enjoy middle school kids (I know...but middle school is really the perfect age to teach--they aren’t too full of themselves and they still have so much to learn). There is nothing better than when a kid says “Oh! I get it!” or when a big burly man-child (I have students who tower over me--and I’m 5’11’-- or who sport facial hair already) gets a sticker on his paper and has to show the entire class, pride beaming from every pore. My philosophy on education is simple: care about every student and make sure they are learning and becoming responsible citizens. To me, a responsible citizen is someone who works hard, is well-rounded, is forward-thinking, supports others, and follows the rules. I know in my heart that when my kids leave me, they are well on their way to a very bright and fulfilling future.

Leigh Ann Brubaker

Years in Education: 6 years

Grade: 3rd grade; all subjects

In their own words...

I think my philosophy on educating students is best described by a quote that is on a plaque a student gave me after my first year of teaching. The quote says that "The Best Teachers Teach from the Heart, Not From the Book." I feel it's important to build rapport with my students and to show them I believe in their abilities to be successful. I want my students to feel safe and loved when they walk into the classroom. The relationships with my students help build the foundations for teaching, learning, and growing together.

Marella Hunter

Years in Education: 13 years

Grade / Subject Level: Support Facilitator in 9th grade Intensive Reading and 6th-12th grade ACCESS Reading

In their own words...

I believe that every classroom has its own unique community full of students who learn differently. My role as the teacher is to assist each child in developing their own potential and learning styles. I believe that I am to have only the highest expectations for each of my students and am responsible for helping them reach those expectations through daily instruction and encouragement. I teach to provide a positive environment where every student is successful.

Carol Anne Young

Years in Education: 25 years

Grade/Subject Level: PreK ESE - 2nd Grade

In their own words...

My philosophy of education has always been, to leave education better than I found it and to help each child reach his/her potential. Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to share my knowledge and experiences with many students of various educational abilities. I have taught Home Economics/Life Skills/ Career Training, as well as Physical Education. These subject areas have allowed me to reach an aspect of student learning beyond the academic classroom. I feel that my contribution to education is just one piece of the" learning" puzzle. The student AND the family unit must also take an active role on this journey we call education for maximum potential to be achieved.

Jennifer Helbert

Years in Education: 7 Years
Grade/Subject Level: High School/Access Point Teacher

In their own words...
It isn’t what a student can’t do. It is about finding what they CAN do and then meeting their needs so that they grow in their learning. Each one of my students is an individual that is capable of learning. As an educator, it is my passion to guide them as a life long learner and always consider their ABILITY, not their disABILITY. Together, we are world changers.

Whitney Jones

Years in Education: 7 years

Grade / Subject Level: 2nd grade

In their own words...

I became an educator to make a difference and help my students develop a desire to learn. It is humbling to watch students grow and succeed! I also strive to build relationships with my students and provide a positive environment. I find that no matter who the student is or what their life is like outside of school, they will work hard when they are shown love and respect!

Kellie Jones

Years in Education: 4 years
Grade / Subject Level:
Reading/ELA 5th grade

In their own words...

I am what you would refer to as an “Intentional Teacher” In order for me to be successful in implementing differentiated instruction and in order to meet every need for each individual student, I will remain flexible and aware of each student's strengths and needs by challenging students while also supporting their instructional needs. My role as an “Intentional Teacher” involves me being more deliberate, purposeful, and thoughtful in my actions and decisions. I will look at a child’s learning needs and provide instruction based on their learning style and what strategies will make them as successful as they can be. Being able to call myself an educator is the greatest honor I could have.

Ashley Murray

Years in Education: 11 years

Grade / Subject Level: 9th grade Intensive Reading/English 1; 10th grade Intensive Language Arts/English 2; Journalism 1-5 (Yearbook)

In their own words...

I became a substitute teacher at Yulee High School in March 2008 with no expectation that I would find myself still here nearly twelve years later. In July 2009, I took a leap of faith when the YHS administration offered me a full-time position teaching English and Journalism. What started with some doubt and worry quickly lead to me realizing that teaching was God's plan for me all along. Throughout the years, my colleagues and inspirational mentors have helped shape my philosophy of education which is to make every child feel loved, valued and safe because when those things take place the learning will follow. My students come to me with various socioeconomic and demographic backgrounds so my goal is to help them find a love for learning while also teaching them awareness and acceptance of their peers who may look or think differently than them. Ten years from now my students likely won't remember what they learned about Macbeth, but my hope is that they will remember how I loved them and how I served them.

Patrick Schinella

Years in Education: 5 years

Grade/Subject Level: 8th Grade Pre-Algebra/Algebra I Honors

In their own words...

Albert Einstein once said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” I have this quote posted on the wall where I facilitate small group instruction and read it multiple times a day. I believe that ALL students have the ability and desire to learn however, there is not a one-size-fits-all solution to learning. It is my duty to create an environment where all students are successful. I work tirelessly to ensure that the needs of all students are met through differentiated instruction, collaborative learning, and small group instruction. I believe in providing students with opportunities to think critically and make connections to real-world scenarios.

Toni Webber

Years in Education: 25 years

Grade/Subject Level: Kindergarten

In their own words...

My philosophy is to embrace each student where they are and use each student's uniqueness to move forward with meaningful curriculum and activities. It is important to develop relationships with each child and parent.