Monroe and Pasco District Teachers of the Year Honored with Special Distinction During the Annual Awards Breakfast

Jul 14 • 386 Views • View Comments

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Commissioner of Education Pam Stewart today presented Samantha Hooper, a fourth grade teacher at Key Largo School in Monroe County, with the Mary J. Brogan “Excellence in Teaching” award and $1,000. Robert Patterson was also the inaugural recipient of the Dr. Brian Dassler Outstanding Teacher/Leader Award, which was established to honor the legacy of the late educator whose passion for teaching and lifelong learning inspired everyone he met.

“In her six years as an educator, Samantha Hooper has made a tremendous impact on her students, colleagues, school leadership and community, and I am honored to recognize her as this year’s Mary J. Brogan ‘Excellence in Teaching’ award recipient,” said Commissioner Stewart.

Samantha Hooper’s principal at Key Largo School described her as an engaging teacher who sets high standards for her students and herself and who is always looking for ways to improve her practice and help those around her reach their full potential. Recognizing the value of extracurricular activities, she is involved in her students’ athletic endeavors, performances and competitions outside of the classroom. In her community, she has supported non-profit organizations to benefit student scholarships, cancer research, hospice, the humane society, and the arts.

The Mary J. Brogan “Excellence in Teaching” award is named in honor of the late Mary J. Brogan, a third grade teacher and elementary principal, to recognize extraordinary educators who instill passion, joy and love of learning in their students. The award is presented to a district teacher of the year who goes above and beyond the classroom experience.

During the annual awards breakfast, Commissioner Stewart also presented Pasco County Teacher of the Year Robert Patterson with the newly established Dr. Brian Dassler Outstanding Teacher/Leader Award. Patterson is a fifth grade teacher at Veterans Elementary School, where he has built strong relationships with his students and fostered a culture of learning and sharing without judgment. Described as a natural leader, Patterson was integral in the creation of the school’s Professional Learning Communities, which bring together teams of educators to analyze instruction and outcomes and develop strategies to help struggling students.

Commissioner Stewart said, “Above all else, Dr. Brian Dassler believed that, with dedication and the right training, anyone is capable of achieving anything. Robert Patterson embodies so many of the qualities that I admired about Dr. Dassler, and it is my pleasure to recognize his passion for teaching with the inaugural Dr. Brian Dassler Outstanding Teacher/Leader Award.”

In March 2017, the education community lost one of its brightest stars with the passing of Deputy Chancellor of Educator Quality Dr. Brian Dassler. An avid social media user, Dr. Dassler was known for remaining in contact with past students and colleagues and for continuing to celebrate in their success even when separated by countless miles. Through this award, each year during the Teacher of the Year Roundtable, the Florida Department of Education will honor a Florida educator who personifies the values that made Dr. Dassler stand out among the crowd.

The awards breakfast concluded the annual Florida Teacher of the Year Roundtable, a four-day event, which provides district teachers of the year with opportunities for professional development, networking and celebration with education leaders and one another. Education partner representatives at this week’s events expressed their appreciation for Florida’s hard-working educators and their commitment to educational excellence in Florida.

The following organizations’ contributions made the week particularly special for these outstanding educators.

Macy’s (Premiere Sponsor)
Blue Man Group
Florida Lottery
Helios Education Foundation
Herff Jones
Universal Orlando
Florida Education Foundation
Annett Bus Lines

For more information about the Florida Department of Education, visit


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