Local Teachers Selected as Finalists for 2017 Teacher of the Year


Kyle Jeter and James Nance

By: Sharon Aron Baron

Two local teachers have been selected as finalists to become Broward County Public Schools 2017 Teacher of the Year. The winner will be announced at the Centennial Caliber Awards recognizing the District’s outstanding employees on April 1, at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center.

Kyle Jeter

12th Grade Teacher, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School  –  Parkland

Kyle Jeter has taught an honors-level course in astronomy for 17 of his 21 years as a science teacher. The course, which served an inaugural class of 22 students, now serves over 200 students in the program. Students learn to solve complex engineering problems through the use of technology and become excited about the possibilities of science. Jeter, a National Board certified teacher, recently completed a Master of Arts degree in teaching and learning. While he inspires students to pursue careers in science, he also helps teachers in Florida and elsewhere to apply technology to their instruction in STEM and other disciplines. “Mr. Jeter’s passion for teaching and creative teaching style spark student interest, motivation and excitement,” said Principal Ty Thompson.

James Nance 

6th – 8th Grade Teacher, Ramblewood Middle School  – Coral Springs 

After working with technology in the business world for 10 years, James Nance found his passion in teaching engineering and robotics to middle school students. For the past six years, Nance has inspired students through hands-on subjects, such as rocketry and underwater robotics. Student engagement with a focus on benchmarks has led to consistent academic growth and gains in achievement. Nance reflects the positive impact provided by his own teachers. “I enter my classroom every day hoping to teach the course I wish I was in as a teenager,” he said.

Other Finalists:

Racquel House

1st Grade Teacher, Hollywood Park Elementary School

“As an educator, it is my job to not only teach children, but to instill a love of learning,” said Racquel House, who uses multiple approaches to help even her struggling first grade students attain reading mastery beyond their grade level. She teaches reading through science and social studies, and infuses art into classroom activities. House’s skills in grant writing have resulted in more than $12,000 in grant funding, enhancing her teaching with technology and, most recently, creating school gardens used to teach math and nutrition. “Mrs. House was born to be a teacher, and the teaching profession is better for it,” said Principal Wendy Galinsky.

Laurie Kraus

Literacy Coach, Hollywood Hills Elementary School

“Students are our priority and it’s our responsibility to educate them in ways that foster a love for lifelong learning,” said Laurie Kraus. A dynamic educator with a passion for inspiring children to read, Kraus believes that each student is part of the gift that is teaching. As her school’s literacy coach, she helps teachers implement appropriate reading interventions to inspire their students to read. Kraus mentors her colleagues and new educators, and believes in providing teachers with the opportunity to inspire their students.

Lara Ruddy

6th – 8th Grade Teacher, McNicol Middle School – Hollywood

Lara Ruddy embodies her own educational philosophy – “know your subject and love your students.” Her passion and enthusiasm for science and for her students have made her a leader. Ruddy is a flexible problem solver who cultivates learners by differentiating instructional approaches to help each student learn effectively. She is passionate about involving parents, families and the community to benefit all children. Ruddy relates education to the community by bringing experts to her classroom and by taking students to community events. “She put the love of science in my heart,” said one of her former students.

Donna Yard

9th – 12th Grade Teacher, West Broward High School – Pembroke Pines

Since 2008, Donna Yard has taught West Broward High students in two very different courses – biology and leadership skills. In her biology classes, where she teaches life sciences, students have exceeded county and state averages on the End of Course exams, with a passing rate of 80 percent or greater. In her leadership classes, where she teaches problem solving, decision-making and communication skills, students prepare to become leaders of the future. As a lifelong learner herself, Yard models an enthusiasm for learning. “Ms. Yard is so passionate about teaching, and focuses on bettering the lives of those around her through the power of knowledge,” said West Broward High former Student Government President Ashley Parigian.

The Centennial Caliber Awards presenting and title sponsor is BrightStar Credit Union. Also supporting the Centennial Caliber Awards are Platinum sponsor Bank of America; gold sponsor After School Programs, Inc.; silver sponsors Pearson and Sunshine Child Care; copper sponsors Grand Canyon University and JC White; and bronze sponsor Catapult Learning.

Author Profile

Sharon Aron Baron

Sharon Aron Baron
Editor of Talk Media and writer for Coral Springs Talk. CST was created in 2012 to provide News, Views, and Entertainment for the residents of Coral Springs and the rest of South Florida.

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