Shady Hill’s Fernandez named Teacher of the Year


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Posted January 29, 2021 | By Brendan Farrell, Ocala Gazette

Christine Fernandez [Submitted]

Shady Hill Elementary School teacher Christine Fernandez won Marion County Teacher of the Year 2021 recently, beating out four other finalists. 

Fernandez has taught in the district since 2013, but she has over three decades of experience. The other four finalists were Tina Otero (West Port High), Christopher Lanza (Ward-Highlands Elementary), Daphne Butler (North Marion Middle) and Heather Nesbitt (North Marion High). 

Fernandez teaches in her classroom at Shady Hill, but all of her students are online. 

“I think that this year was probably more important than any other year with a great opportunity for us to celebrate and recognize the hard work of all of our teachers,” Judy Zanetti, the executive director of the Public Education Foundation of Marion County, said. “Christina is a 30-year teaching veteran, but I think she exemplifies the compassion and the grace and the ability to re-invent and to re-imagine what teaching looks like.”

Emma Dingman of Emerald Shores Elementary won Rookie Teacher of the Year. The rookie award is given to teachers with less than four years of experience.