Duval County Teacher of the Year is finalist for 2022 Florida Teacher of the Year

Mandarin High history teacher Jim Schmitt among 5 finalists for statewide honor

Jim Schmitt of Mandarin High School is the 2021 VyStar Duval County Teacher of the Year.
Jim Schmitt of Mandarin High School is the 2021 VyStar Duval County Teacher of the Year. (WJXT)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jim Schmitt, who teaches history and global perspectives and research at Mandarin High School and was named the 2021 VyStar Duval County Teacher of the Year, is a 2022 Florida Teacher of the Year state finalist.

K-12 Public Schools Chancellor Jacob Oliva and Deputy Chancellor for Educator Quality Dr. Paul Burns from the Florida Department of Education made the announcement during a surprise visit to Mandarin High on Tuesday.

The 2022 Florida Teacher of the Year will be named on July 22 in Orlando.

Schmitt has 28 years of teaching experience. Throughout his career, he has excelled as a teacher leader, developing a writing program for at-risk students, writing a $10,000 grant for a school-to-work program, and serving as a standards coach.

“What is most impactful about Mr. Schmitt’s classroom is the use of movement, engagement strategies and thought-provoking discussion to get all students simultaneously out of their seats and learning,” said Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene.

Schmitt is passionate about creating self-learners in his classroom. He created Teachers Teach Teachers, a learning community for educators across the district. The community showcases instructional practices and coaches teachers as they implement new strategies.

“Mr. Schmitt’s classroom is a space of true learning and engagement; music plays, debates ensue, student voice is encouraged, and history is not only taught, but experienced,” said Mandarin High Principal Sara Bravo.

When COVID-19 hit, he took a leadership role in helping teachers collaborate even more, developing a community discussion group to exchange technology strategies that work.

Before he became a teacher, Schmitt served as a lieutenant in the United States Navy. He has a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Phoenix.

“My congratulations to James Schmitt as one of five 2022 Florida Teacher of the Year state finalists,” said Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran. “James’ commitment to education doesn’t stop at the classroom; he also effortlessly works with his fellow educators across the district to provide a professional learning community. His work to continually push his students to become self-learners shows a real dedication to education and we are proud to have Mr. Schmitt in our state’s education system.”

This year’s five 2022 Teacher of the Year state finalists were chosen from more than 185,000 public school teachers throughout the state. After each school district selects its teacher of the year, a selection committee representing teachers, principals, parents and the business community reviews each district application on the basis of outstanding ability to teach and communicate knowledge of the subject taught, professional development, philosophy of teaching and outstanding school and community service. The winner will also serve for one year as the Christa McAuliffe Ambassador for Education.

In partnership with the Florida Education Foundation, the Florida Teacher of the Year program is made possible by these generous sponsors: Florida Prepaid, State Farm, Gulf Power Foundation, Helios Education Foundation, Florida Blue Foundation, Herff Jones and Florida State University College of Education.

For more about the Florida Teacher of the Year program, please visit Florida Teachers Lead.

Duval teacher of the year

The Duval County Teacher of the Year winner was revealed during the Jacksonville Public Education Fund’s EDDY Awards, which aired live on Channel 4 earlier this year. The 30th annual awards show, presented by VyStar Credit Union and hosted by News4Jax anchor Melanie Lawson, was also streamed on News4Jax.com. It was the first time the ceremony, which usually seats 1,100, was televised, allowing anyone to watch.

PHOTO GALLERY: See images from the 30th Annual EDDY Awards

During Schmitt’s acceptance speech, he called each of his students by name.

“We did it,” he said. “We did it because they were part of this. That’s my one regret that they couldn’t be here today because they’ve been around the whole time.”

WATCH: Interview with Jim Schmitt on “The Morning Show”

He also took home a brand new Hyundai Elantra from Jenkins Hyundai. Schmitt said he needed a new car.

“I’ve got an old beat-up Hyundai Elantra, and now I got a new Hyundai Elantra,” he said. “I love it. It’s great.”

He’ll have a lot to think about while he’s cruising.

“It’s hard to reflect on it when I look back at my career and how I started teaching and then to see where I am today,” Schmitt said. “But above all, I’m so proud of my friends and my colleagues because that’s been my changing dynamic. Teachers teaching teachers and being part of that makes it so special to me.”

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