On the 20th anniversary of the award, four Jacksonville teachers were surprised in their classrooms yesterday and today, Thursday, April 27, with the 2017 Gladys Prior Awards for Career Teaching Excellence, which were established in 1998 by Gilchrist Berg, founder and president of Water Street Capital, to honor teachers who have had lifelong careers in teaching and inspiring students.
As of this year, 80 teachers will have been recognized with a Gladys Prior Award. To date, Berg has given more than $1 million to honor Jacksonville teachers with an award named after his fourth-grade teacher, Gladys Prior, at Ortega Elementary. The University of North Florida College of Education and Human Services manages this gift and coordinates the annual award competition. Each of these career teachers will receive $15,000.
The 2017 winners are Patrice Haupt, Paxon School for Advanced Studies; Alicia Henderson, Assumption Catholic School; Larry Knight, Stanton College Preparatory School; and James Miller, La Villa Middle School of the Arts. Together these teachers have well over 80 years of teaching experience.
The surprise visits were yesterday and today as follows:
Wednesday, April 26:
- 8:20 AM La Villa Middle School, 501 N Davis St.
- 11:20 AM Stanton College Prep, 1149 W 13th St.
- 12:45 PM Assumption Catholic School, 2431 Atlantic Blvd.
Thursday, April 27:
- 9:25 AM Paxon School for Advanced Studies, 3239 Norman E Thagard Blvd.
Patrice Haupt teaches language arts at Paxon. She’s known for her commitment to meet the varying academic and personal needs of her students plus supporting and mentoring fellow teachers. She holds her students to high expectations in her class, while honoring every single one of their identities and stories. Haupt is a sister, mother, friend, cheerleader, partner and an inspiration to all she meets. She’s described as vibrant, vocal and unequivocally in love with teaching and her students.
Alicia Henderson is a literature and English teacher at Assumption, where she also coaches the cross-country team. She does everything imaginable to engage her students in literature—taking students on reading-related field trips, such as a visit to a tearoom after reading “Anne of Green Gables” and an adventure at the Okefenokee Swamp complete with archery after diving into “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.” Henderson has an astonishing library and has the unique gift to match students with books that will draw them in. Her classroom invites students to read and discuss at tables and comfy chairs with pillow and rugs, all lit with soft light.
Larry Knight teaches Language Arts at Stanton and is the advisor to the award-winning Stanton newspaper, the Devil’s Advocate. Knight uses roundtable paedeia discussions after required reading assignments, which begins with a student voicing an assertion about the work and is followed by a discussion based upon analytical and creative thought. All this takes place with 14 and 15 year olds encouraged by Knight to pursue individual thinking and intellectual exploration—a true gift for freshmen entering the robust and challenging world of Stanton. His door is always open to new teachers learning from a master teacher, and he’s widely admired for many years of outstanding advising, teaching and mentoring the staff of the school paper.
James Miller teaches U.S. history at LaVilla. He’s an infectious storyteller whose classes are filled with rich images, maps, battle scenes, clips from movies, colorful descriptions and interdisciplinary projects designed to wake up students’ minds. Miller has woven his enthusiasm for gardening into his history lessons, with stories of families fleeing Mussolini with fig-tree cuttings from Italy in hand. He generously provided students with fig-tree cuttings from his own garden to plant their own trees. He also attends the performances of students and has been known to ask for an autograph or two afterwards.
UNF, a nationally ranked university located on an environmentally beautiful campus, offers students who are dedicated to enriching the lives of others the opportunity to build their own futures through a well-rounded education.