A Lehigh Acres high school teacher was named one of the finalists in the Lee County School District's Teacher of the Year award for 2013. This year's award went to a teacher at Cypress Lakes High School in Fort Myers and was presented last Thursday.
She is Patricia Gair who has taught in Lee County for 18 years.
Of the several in competition was Caren Pearson, a visual arts and Cambridge teacher at Lehigh Senior High School Center for the arts on Gunnery Road.
She has taught in Lee County for 28 years and is credited with developing and growing the Visual Arts component of the school and assisting the school with becoming a national Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) demonstration school.
Pearson teaches courses in the Cambridge Advanced International Certificate of Education (AICE) Arts and Design and Thinking Skills.
She also serves as the Reading Leadership Team chairman and is a role model among her colleagues, said her fellow teachers.
School board officials said Pearson Caren showcases the work of her students in the community, which builds positive relationships with students, parents, and business partners. They said she helped write the Arts Integration for Motivation (AIM) with the goal of increasing student engagement and enhancing teaching and learning.
The person who nominated her said, "Mrs. Pearson is not just an art teacher, she is involved in every aspect that makes Lehigh Senior and exceptional school. She takes all of her wonderful knowledge and creates a learning environment that is rich with solid teaching practices. Her love and passion for her students shines through in every aspect of what she does. She is a perfect model of this profession."
Pearson is committed to educating the whole student, "walking the walk," collaborating and learning, they said. She believes an important message to her colleagues and community is, "As stakeholders in our children's education, we are all responsible to educate the student as a whole person. We have the opportunity to make a difference.
"As a teacher, I touch the future," she said.
The name of the winner of the annual Teacher of the Year Award was kept secret until a few hours before school officials and other dignitaries showed up at Cypress Elementary School where they went to her classroom and walked in and made the surprise announcement to the children's cheers.
Overall winner Patricia Gair was cited for her extensive experiences in education and performance which officials say have been invaluable to her school, the community, and the state. She was awarded the distinguished honor of being a Fulbright Memorial Fund Teacher and was able to experience Japanese education and culture as a guest of the Japanese government.
Gair is a lead teacher and writer of the Arts Integration for Motivation (AIM) grant which brings together academics and arts to increase student achievement. Recently, in collaboration with The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools, Inc., she coordinated and produced the Lee County School District's performance for the National Education Association Foundation's Gala in Washington, DC.
The Lee County Public Schools Teacher of the Year will then be a nominee for the 2014 Florida Department of Education - Macy's Teacher of the Year.