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Rocio French, a mathematics and reading teacher at Avon Park Youth Academy is the Juvenile Teacher of the Year, beating out hundreds of fellow educators to be recognized as the best juvenile justice teacher in the state of Florida. Each year the award is given to an individual who demonstrates a passion for teaching and an unwavering commitment to student learning.
Ms. French accepted the award during the Annual National Dropout Prevention Network Conference held in Orlando Sunday, October 14 through Wednesday, October 17. The Florida Department of Education hosted the event in conjunction with the National Dropout Prevention Center.
Of Ms. French, Avon Park Youth Academy Principal Dr. John Zeuli says “Unless you have taught, it is hard to capture the difficulty of teaching reluctant learners. Visitors to our school often comment on all students’ high level of engagement in Ms. French’s reading and mathematics classes. People are simply stunned by her ability to motivate and engage students. Tough students who normally would not be caught reading aloud or defending an answer to a math problem are seen doing so in front of other students without inhibition or fear of failure. This is a reflection of how much students feel welcome in her classroom.”
Ms. French has earned teacher certifications and endorsements in reading, mathematics, exceptional student education (ESE), gifted education, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), middle grades integrated curriculum and Spanish. The consummate learner is now being recognized throughout the state as an exceptional teacher.