Duval County Public Schools logo. Photo of each finalist accompanied by their last name.

Finalists for the 2022 Vystar Teacher of the Year announced

The release below is from the Jacksonville Public Education Fund and is being republished with their permission. Contact Amy Henderson at [email protected] or visit www.jaxpef.org for more information.

Dec. 3, 2021 –The Jacksonville Public Education Fund is proud to announce the top five finalists for the 2022 VyStar Duval County Teacher of the Year.

The finalists were chosen by a community selection committee that reviewed their applications, conducted interviews and watched footage of their instruction in the classroom or online. One of the five finalists will be announced as winner of the county-wide honor live on WJXT/Channel 4 as schools tune in from watch parties around the district.

The EDDY Awards: Live from Jacksonville! TV Special airs on Jan. 22, 2022 at 8 PM on WJXT/Channel 4 and streams on news4jax.com and News4JAX+.  

The EDDY Awards gala will take place simultaneously on January 22. Through a partnership with WJXT/Channel 4, Morning Show anchor Melanie Lawson will take TV audiences live to the event, where the winner of the top honor will be announced. Beyond the five finalists and the winner, the TV Special will also celebrate every Teacher of the Year, as well as the work of every teacher in Duval County who has worked so hard to support students during this difficult year.

“We want to make our teachers feel like celebrities,” said JPEF President Rachael Tutwiler Fortune. “After everything they’ve done for our kids, they deserve to have a moment when the community comes together and celebrates them.”

“Channel 4 is proud to continue our partnership with the Jacksonville Public Education Fund to honor the dedication of educators.  It is their commitment to our children now that will drive the future of our community,” says VP/General Manager Terri Cope Walton.  “We serve to share that commitment by recognizing these individuals.”

See the full list of finalists below! Visit www.jaxpef.org to see the list of the 15 semi-finalists selected in November and all the nominees selected in October for the 2022 VyStar Teacher of the Year.

Amanda Hildenbrand 

School: Crown Point Elementary School 

Grade: 1st Grade 

Subject: All 

Teaching Experience: 8 years  

“Throughout last year, Mrs. Hildenbrand worked tirelessly to make up learning losses and close learning gaps. She did so in ways that were engaging to students such as her annual pumpkin patch event or her “Starbooks” event where students got to drink “coffee” while rotating through a variety of literary-based stations. Mrs. Hildenbrand also overcame the barrier of parents not being able to come into the school by communicating through the Class DOJO app. The photos and videos she sent me throughout the year will forever be cherished.” 

– Rachel, Parent  

Shakeya Lee 

School: Biscayne Elementary Leadership Academy 

Grade: 3rd Grade 

Subject: English Language Arts and Social Studies 

Teaching Experience: 3 years 

Quote: “Ms. Lee actively looks for ways to incorporate technology and different techniques that will appeal to her students. Last school year Ms. Lee participated in several trainings for continued growth, even attending a course to learn and utilize Minecraft Education, which my son loves. Ms. Lee stimulates learning in students and adds personality to meet students where they are. Ms. Lee anticipates challenges and not only prepares students but educates parents on what to anticipate and how to help their child. Ms. Lee learns her students quickly and adjusts to them to ensure they grasp the content.”  

– Janee, Parent  

Candice Lilly 

School: Mandarin Oaks Elementary 

Grade: Kindergarten Inclusion 

Subject: All 

Teaching Experience: 8 years 

Quote: “Ms. Lilly goes far beyond the kids in her own classroom. She has been the lead for Girls on the Run and during these meetings she teaches more than just running by giving girls empowerment. She has also been involved in extended care and community education. Everyone I know told me to sign my child up for community education and do “Kids in the Kitchen” with her. She also participates in every PTA event and brings families to the school. Her students want to see her outside of the classroom. This helps parents find ways to connect with their child’s education. I am positive it helps elevate the little ones who may need it the most. Every parent and child who walks away from her classrooms feels that this teacher gave the child the absolute best education.”  

– Melissa, Parent

Charles Darwin Magdaluyo 

School: Jean Ribault High School 

Grade: 9th and 12th  

Subject: Human Anatomy and Physiology 

Teaching Experience: 7 years 

“In this class, we are never afraid to ask questions and make mistakes in concepts he teaches. We feel valued. We belong. Mr. Magdaluyo creates a safe environment for us in his classroom that allows us to ask for help if we do not understand something. He always makes sure we understand the lessons. He tries to connect with all of us students and builds bonds. I truly believe that he’s the best teacher in Duval County, and I wouldn’t believe you if you said he was anything less than the best in all of Florida.” 

– Jasmyn, Current Student  

Nick Nelson 

School: Sabal Palm Elementary 

Grade: 2nd Grade 

Subject: All 

Teaching Experience: 9 years 

“Our youngest daughter was lucky enough to have Mr. Nelson as her second-grade teacher at Sabal Palm elementary. He brought out characteristics in our child that she didn’t even know of herself! He taught her to be unapologetically herself. And that is by far the greatest blessing a family can get from a teacher. Duval County is lucky to have him, and more teachers should aspire to have the same enthusiasm for getting to know and help each individual child as he has! There’s something that is profound in this man that shines like a beacon to these children. I hope that he continuesto bless all these children that he teaches with the ray of sunshine that he is.”  

– Elise, Parent  

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