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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Ocala math teacher named finalist for Florida Teacher of the Year award

Jennifer Brown, a math teacher at Forest High School in Ocala, is in the running for Florida’s 2025 Teacher of the Year award.

On Tuesday afternoon, Brown learned the exciting news when she received a surprise visit from representatives of the Florida Department of Education and Marion County Public Schools, including Superintendent Dr. Diane Gullet and members of the Marion County School Board.

Florida Teacher of the Year finalist Jennifer Brown (right) with Superintendent Dr. Diane Gullet (left) on May 7, 2024. (Photo: Marion County Public Schools)
Florida Teacher of the Year finalist Jennifer Brown (right) with Marion County Schools Superintendent Dr. Diane Gullet on May 7, 2024. (Photo: Marion County Public Schools)

Earlier this year, Brown was named Marion County’s Teacher of the Year during the 34th annual Golden Apple Gala in Ocala. In addition to receiving a free Subaru Outback, Brown also advanced to the state-level Florida Teacher of the Year Recognition program, which is coordinated by the Florida Department of Education.

MCPS Golden Apple Teacher of the Yera finalist Jennifer Brown
Jennifer Brown is Marion County’s reigning Teacher of the Year. (Photo: Marion County Public Schools)

After competing with 74 other teachers across the state, representing over 185,000 educators, Brown was chosen by FDLE as one of the finalists for the 2025 Florida Teacher of the Year honor. The winner will be announced during a special gala that will be held in Orlando on July 25, 2024.

Forest High School's Jennifer Brown is a finalist for 2025 Florida Teacher of the Year. (Photo: Marion County Public Schools)
Forest High School’s Jennifer Brown is a finalist for 2025 Florida Teacher of the Year. (Photo: Marion County Public Schools)

Brown, who teaches Geometry, is a 21-year teaching veteran who has been with Marion County Public Schools since 2015.

During the Golden Apple Gala in February, Brown stated that a principal once asked her a thought-provoking question. “(The principal) asked, ‘If your class were an elective, how many kids would sign up?’ These words spoken over a decade ago still echo in my mind today, propelling me to infuse relevance and meaning into everything I teach.”

Brown added that she doesn’t just teach geometry. She also teaches children “to believe in themselves and persevere, and to not give up.”

According to MCPS, 2017 was the last year that a Marion County teacher was in the running for Florida Teacher of the Year.

Brown isn’t the only MCPS employee to receive statewide recognition in recent weeks. A retired United States Army veteran who works at an Ocala elementary school was recently named Florida’s school-related employee of the year.

Edward Lanza and Marion County Schools Superintendent Dr. Diane Gullett
Edward Lanza (let) and Marion County Schools Superintendent Dr. Diane Gullett. (Photo: Marion County Public Schools)

For more information about the Florida Teacher of the Year program, visit the Florida Teachers Lead website.