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Building by Igniting

Feb 15, 2024

Teacher of the Year recipients together at the inaugural Build by Igniting meeting at LaunchPad4U

Teacher of the Year recipients together at the inaugural Build by Igniting meeting at LaunchPad4U.

Each year in December or January, during the Ignite Education Teacher of the Year Award Celebration, the community comes together to honor remarkable teachers from across the county and all their work inspiring students. After the event, after the recognition settles, most teachers, who were selected by their peers to represent their schools, return to the classroom and life goes on as normal.

Recognizing the importance of, as 2021 district Teacher of the Year Kari Johnson said, “continuously celebrating, elevating, and igniting teachers,” she and fellow district Teachers of the Year Dr. Jennifer Jaso and Timothy Ferguson developed Build by Igniting. This program aims to bring together Teacher of the Year recipients to continue meeting, sharing ideas, and growing.

The goals of the project are, as Johnson noted:
1. Keeping leaders in the classroom while providing opportunities to grow as teacher leaders.
2. Strengthening the culture of the profession through opportunities that empower teachers.
3. Improving student outcomes through teacher collaboration.
4. Elevating the profession by recognizing and celebrating teachers.
5. Building lasting relationships among colleagues.

Current district Teacher of the Year Ronnique Major speaking to teachers at the inaugural Build by Igniting meeting held at LaunchPad4U

Current district Teacher of the Year Ronnique Major speaking to fellow teachers.

On January 26, the program kicked off with a meeting at LaunchPad4U, the Education Foundation of Sarasota County’s community resource center. The Education Foundation, in partnership with Sarasota County Schools, hosts the Ignite Education Teacher of the Year Award Celebration. It is honored to collaborate with and support remarkable teachers to make Build by Igniting a reality.

Twelve Teacher of the Year recipients met during the first meeting and had the opportunity to listen to 2024 Florida Teacher of the Year, Adrianna Swearingen. Teachers connected, collaborated, and had fun.

The event, Johnson said, “went better than I imagined. It was an opportunity for teachers across our district to connect. Teachers were able to showcase a piece of their favorite lesson. This led to incredible conversations and inspiration in which they all had time to share their voice and vision. They all are eager to continue this networking and connecting and we are trying to create something more for them that is meaningful and long-lasting.”

With more meetings to come and with a long-term goal of creating, as Johnson said, “a cadre of teachers who will help uplift and elevate the profession,” Build by Igniting will continue to inspire the teachers who do so much to fuel a lifelong love of learning.