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Lesson Learned: Award-Winning St. Johns County Teachers Reflect on Their Time at Flagler College

Feb 18, 2022

Flagler College is proud to have a total of 10 alumni receive the St. Johns County Teacher of the Year award and an additional seven alumni receive the St. Johns County Rookie Teacher of the Year award.

But before they were award-winning educators, they were students at Flagler College who discovered their calling while still tackling class assignments and working to ace their final exams. During their time at Flagler, they were all learning valuable long-lasting lessons that impacted their journey and shaped them into the successful teachers they are today.

Some teachers, like Jennifer Twine, gained a new appreciation for subjects that they struggled with as a student.

Jennifer Twine

Jennifer Twine

“When I was a student, I struggled with math every day and hated it. During my time at Flagler, I took a class ‘Methods of Teaching Elementary Math’ that changed my life. Finally, someone taught me math in a way that clicked in my brain. As a teacher, I strive to make sure that all my students are taught in a way in which their brains can comprehend the knowledge. I enjoy teaching math so much now that I recently became certified to teach it grades K-9!” -Jennifer Twine, Osceola Elementary School Teacher of the Year, Flagler College Class of ‘07

Proud alumni and Teachers of the Year Kristie and Ashley learned the value of showing their students just how unique and cared for they really are.

Kristie Reyes

Kristie Reyes

“At Flagler I remember how much each teacher cared about their students. Being an athlete at Flagler, the teachers always took time to show they cared about me, either by coming to my games to support me or striking up conversations in class, all which showed me they supported and cared for me. In my classroom I try to use the same approach. I try to let my students know I support them, and I am there for them. I think that by showing interest, kindness, and availability is something that my teachers at Flagler demonstrated to me during my time there and is something I try to do with my students now.” -Kristie Reyes, Mill Creek Academy Teacher of the Year, Flagler College Class of ‘04

Ashley Woolston

Ashley Woolston

“Teachers like Barry Sand made me feel important and valued. I realized they cared about me as a person and wanted to help me build a future. I never felt like a number at Flagler, and I have tried to carry that into my own classroom. I try to show students that I value them as individuals.  I believe that when a student knows you care, they want to succeed in your class.” -Ashley Woolston, Liberty Pines Academy Teacher of the Year, Flagler College Class of ‘03

Sarah and Tara, who graduated from Flagler College just two years apart, learned lasting lessons that go beyond the confines of a classroom.

Sarah Lombardi

Sarah Lombardi

“The biggest lesson I learned during my years at Flagler was the importance of preparing today's students for the future. Many students who are in our elementary classrooms today will go on to have job and careers that don't even exist yet. I always try to remember that teaching is about preparing my students to take on any challenge and pursue any passion they may have in the future.” -Sarah Lombardi, Palm Valley Academy Teacher of the Year, Flagler College Class of ‘04

Tara Espinoza

Tara Espinoza

“Studying at Flagler College helped me come out of my introvert shell.  I got better at developing comradery with my professors, speaking up in class and seeking help outside of class.  I brought that newfound confidence with me.” -Tara Espinoza, Hickory Creek Elementary Rookie Teacher of the Year, Flagler College Class of ‘02

When Rookie Teachers of the Year Stephen and Stella were students at Flagler College, not only did they discover their passion for teaching, but they were provided with the necessary foundation to become great educators.

Stephen Mancini

Stephen Mancini

“Flagler laid the foundation for me to cultivate my understanding of what it takes to be a great educator. The faculty at Flagler greatly emphasized that the little things are what matter in education which can have a huge impact on the students inside and outside of the classroom.” -Stephen Mancini, Switzerland Point Middle School Rookie Teacher of the Year, Flagler College Class of ‘15

Stella Hackler

Stella Hackler

“One lesson I learned at Flagler that I have carried with me throughout my career this far is to pursue what I am passionate about. During my time as an undergraduate student, this meant studying English and Creative Writing. Post grad, pursuing what I'm passionate about has led me to trading in my role as the student for the role of the teacher as I teach middle school English Language Arts.” -Stella Hackler, Fruit Cove Middle School Rookie Teacher of the Year, Flagler College Class of ‘21

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