Belle Terre Elementary teacher Ed Wolff, head of the school’s after school fifth- and sixth-grade science club, accepted the Flagler County School District’s Teacher of the Year award to shouts and cheers Jan. 15 in an event that was as much party as ceremony.
“The fact that when we all work hard, and we all try to do this — for me to be picked, out of all of these people, it’s amazing,” Wolff said. “I hope I represent the district and make it happen. I think we can make state.”
Brun Hudson, Matanzas High School network support session, opened the ceremony by dancing onto the stage at the Flagler Auditorium in a pair of roller skates as rock music played over the speakers. Near its conclusion Hudson was on the stage again, this time to be recognized as the district’s Employee of the Year.
Hudson said he was humbled to have received the award. “I always think of myself as a small part of a much bigger machine,” he said. “When you get an award like this from people you work with every day, it’s humbling. It’s special.”
Wolff, who has been teaching in Florida for 17 years and at Belle Terre Elementary for 10, led the project to build an outdoor classroom centered around a solar-powered aquaponics farm that grew strawberries, peppers and mint. The farm — right down to the solar panels, which were built using a 3D printer — was constructed by students. Wolff’s class, according to his application packet for the award, also built an alternative power source: a 10-foot tower topped by a 400-watt generator.
There are other recent accomplishments: He created a Technology Day event, working alongside local companies “to encourage an educational program driven by technology and business,” according to his application. He tested incoming students for math fluency, and got a grant to run a supplemental program to help the students who didn’t pass.
He recognizes the importance of experimentation and collaboration in learning. “In order to include the whole class in the learning process, I have to trust my students to take charge and resist my urge to interfere. As I seek more ways to build relationships, I am learning that I cannot expect them to take risks if I don’t.” he wrote.
Matanzas High School’s Brun Hudson “has the highest ration of computer troubleshooting and repairs in the district,” according to a letter of recommendation from Assistant Principal John Shelby, but he does more than repair and troubleshooting.
“There is no one in the building who has not benefitted from his help,” Principal Chris Pryor wrote. “He is considered the ‘Wizard of Matanzas High School’ because no matter how obscure the request, Brun is always capable of finding an answer.”
He helped roll out the district’s 1:1 Computer Initiative for high schoolers, and then worked with administrators to deter illegal downloading and cyberbullying, and has volunteered for school initiatives and events including the Education Foundation’s STUFF bus and Belle Terre Elementary’s Dr. Seuss Nights and Honor Roll Skate Parties.
At the same ceremony, Rymfire Elementary’s Paula St. Francis was recognized as the district’s Principal of the Year, and Flagler Palm Coast High School’s Dusty Sims was recognizes as Assistant Principal of the year.
Other school district employees nominated for awards are as follows are listed below.
School nominees for the Teacher of the Year award:
Marlene Vazquez, Bunnell Elementary
Brandi Moberly, Old Kings Elementary
Kathy Baldwin, Rymfire Elementary
Lesley Poland, Wadsworth Elementary
Erin Weed, Buddy Taylor Middle School
Erica Cerasi, Indian Trails Middle School
John Seth, Flagler Palm Coast High School
Troy Caraballo, Matanzas High School
Nominees for the Employee of the Year award:
Maria Urrutia, Belle Terre Elementary
Dolly Wilson, Bunnell Elementary
Laura Orza, Old Kings Elementary
Beth Blumengarten, Rymfire Elementary
Robert Ledek, Wadsworth Elementary
Jeanette Rivelli, Buddy Taylor Middle
Susan Agostino, Indian Trails Middle
Robin Jones, Flagler Palm Coast High
Connie Feeney, Flagler Technical Institute
Ellen Albano, custodial
Rob Carroll, food services
Travis Mellow, plant services
Domenic DiGeronimo, technology
Kathy Lawler, transportation
Erica Lovelette, Government Services Building
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