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Sarasota teacher finishes as runner-up for Florida Teacher of the Year

Fruitville Elementary School teacher Kari Johnson, the Sarasota Schools Teacher of the Year, was one of five finalists for the statewide honor.

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  • | 4:05 p.m. July 26, 2021
  • Sarasota
  • Schools
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Fruitville Elementary School teacher Kari Johnson was named one of four runners-up for the Florida Teacher of the Year awards July 22. 

Johnson, a kindergarten teacher, was named the Sarasota County Schools Teacher of the Year in January for her hard work and commitment to the school. For Johnson, who said she has always only wanted to be a teacher, the nomination was an honor. 

After being named the district’s winner, Johnson became eligible for the statewide honor. In May, she received word she was one of five finalists.

At a gala July 22 in Orlando, Johnson was named a runner-up. Sarah Ann Painter, a fifth-grade teacher from Pinellas County, was named the Teacher of the Year. 

Johnson’s recognition marked the third time in 10 years that a Sarasota County Schools teacher was named a state finalist. Most recently, Oak Park School music teacher Shane Swezey was named a state finalist in 2019. 

The three other finalists were Duval County’s Jim Schmitt, Sumter County’s Brittany Brown and Volusia County’s Frank Garaitonandia. Each finalist received $15,000 for their work. Painter received $20,000 and a two-year Florida college scholarship to give to the student of her choice.


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