Music is a big deal at Dillard High School. The magnet performing arts program at the Fort Lauderdale school consistently develops top-notch musicians, thanks to teachers like band director Sheldon McLean.
“So the investment that we put into the students, the return doesn’t really come financially, right, it comes from them being the best versions of themselves and being able to see them go and do great things,” McLean said. “My goal is always to focus on the whole child, the music will come.”
Allison Unger-Fink isn’t just teaching at Hawkes Bluff Elementary School in Southwest Ranches, she’s teaching in the very room in which she was once a student.
“Being a teacher, especially being a teacher in the school I attended as a child, and being a student in this classroom 15 years ago allows me to see not only my perspective as a teacher but put myself into their shoes,” Unger-Fink said. “So what I get out of teaching is building the relationships with the students and incorporating their own passions into the content that we teach.”
Alicia Gaines-Holligan says she is inspired every day by her students at Park Lakes Elementary School in Lauderdale Lakes.
“Maybe I’m a role model for them but you know, I look up to them, how they’re able to overcome challenges and still come in and do their best, like no matter what’s going on at home,” Holligan said.
There are obvious differences between the nominees, from grade levels to the subjects they teach, but when it comes to wanting to make an impact on this next generation of kids, they’re all on the same page.
Monika Moorman said she wants her fourth graders at Central Park Elementary School in Plantation to feel empowered to change the world.
"I also love the fact that they question things, as a matter of fact I want them to be non-conformists, I want them to question the world around them, question me, right?” Moorman said.
Mark Horowitz said he wants his students at Flamingo Elementary School in Davie to have the same opportunities his own children have.
“That’s my gratification, to know that I’m able to transfer my knowledge to them and have them succeed,” Horowitz said. “If anybody told me they wanted to go into education for the money, I would tell them they’re going into the wrong field, but if you want to make a difference in the lives of children, this is the field to do it in.”
The five nominees will learn Friday night at the district’s Caliber Awards ceremony which one of them gets the title of Teacher of the Year.