Beginning and Mentor Teacher of the Year Winners

Beginning and Mentor Teacher of the Year Award Winners Announced for 2021
Posted on 05/25/2021
The Beginning Teacher of the Year Award is presented to outstanding first year teachers at the Elementary and Secondary level in the School District of Palm Beach County on an annual basis. Winners are recommended by their principal for demonstrating excellence.

As part of the award process, nominees are asked to describe their biggest classroom victory, and how they’ve built relationships with students. This gives the nominees an opportunity to elaborate on the work they do in their classrooms.

Each year, the Mentor Teacher of the Year Award is presented to exceptional first year mentor teachers in the District, also at the Elementary and Secondary level. Nominees for the award are asked to talk about why they became a mentor and the qualities that make them effective in their role.

Congratulations to each nominee, and the winners. Read what they each had to say about their most meaningful triumph in the classroom:

Elementary Beginning Teacher of the Year Award Nominees

• Donneria Johnson – Belle Glade Elementary

• Anthony Marinello – Sandpiper Shores Elementary (Award Winner)
“My biggest classroom victory was successfully playing my part in bringing some normalcy back to the lives of our extraordinary students.”

• Julissa Orozco – Timber Trace Elementary
“In this challenging year, my students learned that they can do hard things and persevere. We climb our mountains and we don't give up!”

• Rosa Uriostegui-Rivera – Belvedere Elementary

Secondary Beginning Teacher of the Year Award Nominees

• Niamh Clancy – Independence Middle
"Building a relationship of trust and confidence with my students and teammates at IMS has been my biggest victory as a new teacher this year."

• Kelsey Foster – Wellington Landings Middle
“The emotional connection that my students and I share is my biggest classroom victory. We are a family who advocates, supports, and uplifts one another.”

• Joseph Speicher – Park Vista Community High
“My biggest victory this year during distance learning has definitely been making an actual connection with students in a virtual setting.”

• Kelly Thomas – John I. Leonard High (Award Winner)
“My biggest classroom victory this year, has been my students' desire to persevere and remain engaged and driven the entire time.”

Elementary Mentor Teacher of the Year Award Nominees

• Ilian Estrada – Belle Glade Elementary

• Lauren Hantman – Crosspointe Elementary
“I used technology to build a collaborative community to support our new teachers and planned opportunities to highlight their incredible work in a challenging year.”

• Claudia Jassir – Highland Elementary

• Corrie Kolesar – Acreage Pines Elementary (Award Winner)
“This happens each year, the moment my students begin to understand and apply ‘growth mindset’ concepts with each other, and most importantly themselves.”

Secondary Mentor Teacher of the Year Award Nominees

• Denisse Conway – Palm Beach Central High

• Kimberly Gioia – Eagles Landing Middle
“My biggest classroom victory has been the moment my ESOL students speak their first words in English.”

• Heather Louisell-Lukasik – Independence Middle (Award Winner)
"For the past 27 years, victories have come every day when I see growth and self-confidence in students who I have been honored to teach."

A virtual award ceremony was held earlier in May to honor the nominees and winners.