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Charter School honors instructors with Teacher of the Year awards

BRIGHTON — Since her days of playing school in her childhood home with her sisters, Renea Finney has known she wanted to teach for a living. She wanted to inspire youth to achieve their dreams. Now, as a science teacher at Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School (PECS), Finney has received recognition for doing just that.

Faculty and staff at the school chose Finney as their 2012 Teacher of the Year.

Each academic year, the Florida Department of Education holds a Teacher of the Year recognition program. The program honors the contributions of outstanding classroom teachers who have demonstrated a superior capacity to inspire a love of learning in students of all backgrounds and abilities, according to the department’s website.

“Mrs. Finney has been with the PECS team from our beginning,” said Michele Thomas, Tribal member and Charter School administrative assistant. “She is a wonderful teacher and team player. She truly makes the students excited about learning science. We are very lucky to have her here.”

Finney began her teaching career 21 years ago in the Okeechobee District teaching middle school science, but she made the transition to Pemayetv Emahakv without hesitation. She said the resources available to her, the great parent involvement and the supportive staff make her job at the Charter School both fun and rewarding.
“When I found out the school was opening, I thought it was a great opportunity,” Finney said. “It’s a dream job here. We’re almost like a little family.”

Finney’s peers at the Charter School nominated her for the Teacher of the Year award, which makes it even more special, she said. It’s nice to know my peers respect me, she said.

“This is an awesome place to come every day,” Finney said. “This is where I want to be.”

In addition to the Teacher of the Year award, Florida public schools also recognize a Non-instructional Employee of the Year – a recognition that went to Diana Greenbaum for her contributions to Pemayetv Emahakv.

Greenbaum also began working at the school from the get-go, having taught second and third grade classes in addition to middle school science in that time. Her passion for teaching, she said, comes from being able to inspire the imaginations of the youth.

“I like to get myself involved and get kids up out of their chairs,” she said of her teaching style. “Being hands-on helps pull them in.”
Greenbaum, for example, brought her students through walk-in refrigerators and walk-in freezers and then walked them outside in the Florida heat to demonstrate hot versus cold temperatures. Experiments like this earned Greenbaum the Non-instructional Employee of the Year award.
“Mrs. Greenbaum is one of the hardest working people I know,” Thomas said. “She puts 100 percent into anything she does and is very helpful to not only the students but also any staff member in need of her creative talent.”

Because the teachers at the school are so talented, Greenbaum said the recognition feels especially rewarding.

“There’s a great bunch of people who work here,” she said. “I thank everyone I work with. For them to nominate me is just wonderful.”

The Charter School will recognize both women for their achievements and their dedication to Pemayetv Emahakv during a banquet coinciding with Teacher Appreciation Week this May.


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