The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice today awarded Amy Jacob with the Juvenile Justice Teacher of the Year Award during a ceremony in Orlando. The Juvenile Justice Teacher of the Year Award is presented to an outstanding educator who uses innovative and creative instructional strategies and who also promotes a positive school environment.
Ms. Amy Jacob is a Spirited Girls teacher at the PACE Center for Girls in Lee County. The Spirited Girls class at PACE teaches girls how to better navigate real life, tackling topics such as self-esteem, conflict resolution, and relationship building. Ms. Jacob has been active at this center for the past year and a half and has served in the education field for 20 years. In addition to her regular classroom curriculum, Ms. Jacob incorporates supplemental activities including yoga classes and guest speakers to visit with her students.
“Ms. Jacob exemplifies what it means to be an extraordinary teacher by focusing not only on teaching her students but instilling in them life skills to prepare them for a brighter future,” said DJJ Secretary Simone Marstiller. “She inspires her students to believe in themselves to help them achieve both personal and academic success.”
Ms. Jacob also received praise from her students at the program. “It’s rare to find a teacher who genuinely cares, and my Spirited Girls teacher truly does care,” said one PACE student. “My Spirited Girls teacher has never let me give up, she always believed in me, has always seen the potential in me.”
DJJ also honored two other finalists for the Juvenile Justice Teacher of the Year Award at the ceremony. Among the other finalists considered were Robert Hegarty, a social studies teacher at the Cypress Creek Juvenile Offender Correctional Center in Citrus County and Kayla Stevenson, a social studies teacher at the PACE Center for Girls in Clay County.
The teachers were honored at the 2nd Annual DJJ Restoring Hope Training Summit where each received a medal and monetary award from the Florida Juvenile Justice Association. The DJJ Restoring Hope Training Summit brings together DJJ staff and stakeholders to discuss juvenile justice reform efforts and raise awareness on issues impacting Florida’s youth and families.