Lake Lucina fellowship award

Lake Lucina teachers awarded Cindy Edelman Excellence Fellowship

Note: The article, video, and images below are republished with permission from the Jacksonville Public Education fund. Visit for more info.

April 15, 2021 — Five outstanding public school teachers are about to begin the professional learning experiences of their careers as the winners of the 2021 Cindy Edelman Excellence in Teaching Fellowship.

Through the Fellowship, a teaching team at Lake Lucina Elementary in Arlington will work to bring culturally responsive teaching practices to their school in an effort to achieve equitable outcomes for all students. The winners are:

  • Kimberly Parker, one of the top five finalists for 2021 Duval County Teacher of the Year and a fellow in JPEF’s Teacher Leadership Initiative, who teaches kindergarten and first grade at Lake Lucina Elementary School. Ms. Parker is the team lead and a veteran teacher with 32 years of experience.
  • Jesica Pearce, an English Language Arts teacher who has taught at Lake Lucina for 14 years.
  • Jenifer Straley, a fourth-grade math and science teacher who has been teaching for 12 years.
  • Sandra Waymer, who teaches second and third grade virtually, and has been teaching for 10 years.
  • Lara Johnston, an Exceptional Student Education (ESE) teacher with six years of teaching experience.

The teaching team is working closely with the school leadership team at Lake Lucina, including the principal, Michelle Walsh, who is a fellow in the Jacksonville Public Education Fund (JPEF)’s School Leadership Initiative, and Latrece Brown Sudduth, the 2017 Duval County Teacher of the Year, who is now Assistant Principal at Lake Lucina Elementary.

Their project builds on a successful professional learning initiative launched this year with JPEF’s support. Principal Walsh has been leading teacher training sessions on brain-based culturally responsive teaching practices based on the work of Zaretta Hammond, a leading expert on helping students of all backgrounds tackle rigorous learning to prepare them for success in college and career. The Fellowship will allow the teaching team to visit a school in Washington, DC, that has become a model for using these practices, attend a conference on Social Justice in Education, and bring a consultant from Edjustice Jax to meet weekly with the school faculty and leadership. In the end, the team at Lake Lucina Elementary aspires to transform their school into a model social justice school, so that public schools across Duval County can learn from their example.

“Our teachers work very hard, but we simply do not have the knowledge to reach all our students yet,” Ms. Parker wrote in the application, highlighting racial disparities in student outcomes in her school. “By completing this Fellowship, we hope to attain the research-based strategies that we are currently lacking so that we can help our most vulnerable students and promote learning gains among our entire student body.”

This learning experience of a lifetime is made possible by philanthropists Cindy and Dan Edelman, who established a permanent fund at The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida to support the annual fellowship in perpetuity. Dan Edelman created the Fund and the Fellowship to honor his wife, Cindy, an impassioned public education champion. The Cindy Edelman Excellence in Teaching Fellowship is intended to identify and reward excellence in teaching and support a program of professional development or research, providing up to $6,500 per teacher or $10,000 per teacher team. JPEF administers the fellowship in partnership with The Community Foundation.

“One of the most striking aspects of their application is the foundational work the principal, Michelle Walsh, has already led,” said Cindy Edelman, a former art history educator who has been deeply involved with JPEF since its founding in 2009 and who chaired its Board of Directors in 2012 and 2013. Mrs. Edelman visited Lake Lucina on Wednesday to surprise the winners with the good news in person. ”The teachers were inspired to write a creative application that focused on even greater impact. They don’t want to stop at Lake Lucina Elementary; they want to become a social justice school to serve as a model across Duval County.”

“I’m incredibly proud of the team at Lake Lucina Elementary,” said JPEF President Rachael Tutwiler Fortune. “Their work shows how school instructional teams can catalyze student learning at their schools when provided resources and support. I know the Fellowship is going to accelerate the great work that started with JPEF’s strategic initiatives.”

The winners were selected by a committee comprised of the Edelman family, former teachers and community leaders. Teachers who would like to learn more about the eligibility criteria and consider applying for next year’s fellowships can visit

Contact Stephanie Garry Garfunkel, Director of Marketing & Communications, at (352) 359-2393 or [email protected] for more information.

About the Jacksonville Public Education Fund

The Jacksonville Public Education Fund is an independent think-and-do tank that believes in the potential of all students. We work tirelessly to close the opportunity gap for low-income students and students of color. We convene educators, school system leaders and the community to pilot and help scale evidence-based solutions that advance school quality in Duval County. For more information:

About The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida

The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, Florida’s oldest and largest community foundation, works to stimulate philanthropy to build a better community. The Foundation helps donors invest their philanthropic gifts wisely, helps nonprofits serve the region effectively, and helps people come together to make the community a better place. Now in its 57th year, the Foundation has assets of $548 million and has made approximately $600 million in grants since 1964. For more information:

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