Finalists Named for 2018 Lee County Teacher of the Year

Finalists Named for 2018 Lee County Teacher of the Year
Posted on 12/10/2018
Finalists Named for 2018 Lee County Teacher of the Year

The School District of Lee County is excited to announce the three finalists for 2018 Teacher of the Year. This year’s finalists truly embody the District’s vision of being a world-class school system through their work in our schools each day. Selecting these final three wasn’t easy, as there are so many devoted and dedicated teachers across the District. The 2018 finalists are:

Jeffrey Becker, Island Coast High School

Jeffrey Becker, Island Coast High School

Gone is the traditional morning news report at Island Coast High School that you could see anywhere else. Digital Medial Technology Teacher Jeffrey Becker has transformed it into something the students want to watch and be a part of. “I wanted students to learn the true vision: video communication, when well done, can change lives,” Becker says. “I want my students to learn video skills not just to produce videos, but to reach people and change lives through video.” The work paid off. In his first year at Island Coast the students won Best High School News Show at the Lee County Film Festival Awards. Becker admits he was a troublemaker in high school and selling copiers until he realized his purpose was to become a school counselor. Helping students one by one led to the desire to help even more of them and become a teacher. “Mr. Becker believes in every students potential to make a difference in the world,” says Island Coast Assistant Principal Leigh Ann Caine. “He proudly declares himself an educator who nurtures student-teacher relationships to help students paint the best picture of themselves.”

Debora Felice, Cypress Lake Middle SchoolDebora Felice, Cypress Lake Middle School

When one of your students describes you as “The bomb” you know you’ve had a positive impact on them. Cypress Lake Middle School Reading Teacher Debora Felice earns that kind of response from her kids. Felice is focused on the lower level reading students at Cypress Lake. “Her not so secret weapon is the relationships she builds with her students,” says Assistant Principal Andrew Miller. “She is a teacher that really listens to her students, loves them, cares for them, and builds up their confidence to reach higher.” Felice instills a love of reading in her students through a variety of teaching methods. They form a Learning Community, use peer mentors, brainstorm, group projects, hands-on learning activities and problem solving. Student scores have gone up under her leadership. Felice says by creating a love for reading she is creating a love for learning. “Students do not care how much you know, until they know how much you care,” Felice says. “I show my caring by forming relationships with my students and work to help them find their strengths, so they can believe in themselves the way I believe in them.”

Suzanne Tocci, Caloosa Middle SchoolSuzanne Tocci, Caloosa Middle School

Suzanne Tocci moved to Caloosa Middle School this year to lead the Lifeskills class and promptly renamed it the Pride Academy. “Compassion and empathy are two qualities which are not necessarily built into the general curriculum of standards-based learning, but in my classroom, they are always recognized and highlighted as core values,” Tocci says. “We are more alike than different.” Tocci is Caloosa Middle’s faculty advisor for Best Buddies, an international program dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). She was instrumental in helping launch 20 chapters across Southwest Florida. Tocci speaks every semester at the FGCU College of Education about inclusion and sensitivity awareness. She has taken on an active role in the Leader in Me program at Caloosa Middle and helped develop the Lighthouse Team to give students a voice in making their school better. “The relationship Ms. Tocci builds in her classroom and the entire school community makes our school culture soar,” says Principal Dr. Ann Cole. “Students know that she loves her job, loves and accepts all students, and that she will always help them achieve their potential.”