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Teacher of the Year finalists surprised at the announcement

Sarasota County's winner will be named Dec. 9 in a ceremony honoring each of the district's 43 nominees.

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  • | 11:50 p.m. November 4, 2021
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Shannon Haddad, Ashton Elementary
Shannon Haddad, Ashton Elementary

Three educators on Thursday were named finalists for the Sarasota County Schools’ Teacher of the Year award.

The teachers, one each from elementary, middle and high school levels, were surprised by presentations on Thursday, assembled in tandem between the school district and the Education Foundation of Sarasota County, which sponsors the annual awards.

Shannon Haddad, of Ashton Elementary; Jennifer Jaso of Sarasota Middle and Loridia Urquiza of Booker will now compete for the title of the district’s teacher of the year. Countywide teachers of the year are eligible for consideration in the statewide contest.

Jennifer Jaso, Sarasota Middle
Jennifer Jaso, Sarasota Middle

  “We are so excited to return to an in-person celebration of our Teacher of the Year finalists,” said Education Foundation President and CEO Jennifer Vigne in a prepared statement. “This is the third school year impacted by the pandemic, and our wonderful teachers continually inspire us by rising to the incredible challenges and keeping their focus on helping students rise to their individual potential.”

School district and foundation officials appeared at each of the nominees schools to deliver an unannounced surprise, complete with balloons, flowers and fanfare organized by leadership at each campus.

Loridia Urquiza, Booker High
Loridia Urquiza, Booker High

Teacher of the Year will be announced Dec. 9 at a ceremony honoring 43 finalists from each of the district’s schools at Michael’s on East.

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.


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