(Editor’s Note – Below is a release from the Jacksonville Public Education Fund with slight modifications.)
Jan. 21, 2024 – Congratulations to Gustavo Guzman, a biology teacher at Terry Parker High School, who was named the 2024 VyStar Duval County Teacher of the Year at the 33rd Annual EDDY Awards.
Guzman, a third-year teacher, was selected from among 180 Teachers of the Year by a committee of volunteers. He will now be competing for the title of Florida’s Teacher of the Year.
Guzman grew up in Belle Glade Florida, the son of agricultural laborers. Early on, he learned the value of education. In high school, he had teachers and mentors who encouraged him to pursue education and helped him get admitted to Edward Waters College and University, becoming the first in his family to graduate from college. Following graduation, he began teaching at Terry Parker High School and became the site director for the 5000 Role Models of Excellence at the school.
“Not only do I work with 5000 RMOE, but I also make sure to have a positive impact on my students by providing positive encouragement on their growth as students,” Guzman said in his Teacher of the Year application. “I love to empower students with positive affirmations based on character development, academic growth, and athletic accomplishments.”
Within his classrooms, he’s implemented systems and instruction that last year raised one class’s test scores by more than 22 percent.
“As an educator, I make an enormous effort to meet my students where they are and work diligently to develop a plan to get them to their next level,” he said.
He said as the Duval County Teacher of the Year, his message is that students need educators to be “the whole teacher.”
“Teachers must personify positive living, lifelong learning, and willingness to empathize; accepting and helping all people that we encounter,” he said. “It takes diverse teachers, willing to meet students where they are, then push them further than they could see for themselves. When students see themselves in their daily leaders, an influx of positive change can occur.”
“Mr. Guzman has that ‘it’ factor that makes students really love to come to his class and learn about science,” said Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Dana Kriznar. “His ability to engage students in higher-order thinking does more than just prepare them for the rigors of college. It also helps them build confidence in their ability to pursue challenging goals and aspirations. His life story is a testament to his students that the American dream is alive and well, and truly anything is possible if you pursue it with passion.”
“We are honored to recognize Mr. Guzman as the 2024 VyStar Duval County Teacher of the Year, his passion for education and profound impact on the lives of his students are testaments to his unwavering commitment to excellence,” said Brian Wolfburg, President/CEO VyStar Credit Union. “We are proud to support and recognize the hard work and dedication of individuals like Mr. Guzman who are making, not just a difference in the lives of their students, but also the communities they serve.”
The EDDY Awards teacher of the year program is hosted by the Jacksonville Public Education Fund (JPEF).
“The EDDY Awards gala is an opportunity to celebrate the many incredible teachers in Duval County and thank them for all they do for our students,” said Rachael Tutwiler Fortune, president of JPEF. “The professionalism they bring to the classroom and the love they pour into their students is life-altering. We congratulate Mr. Guzman for being named the 2024 VyStar Duval County Teacher of the Year and look forward to sharing his outstanding accomplishments in the Florida Teacher of the Year process.”
Teachers of the year from 180 schools were nominated, and evaluated by committees of volunteers, who ultimately narrowed the down to 15 semi-finalists, and then five finalists.