Jessie Boyce, a sixth-grade math teacher at Tyrone Middle School in St. Petersburg, is this year’s Outstanding Educator of the Year in Pinellas County, officials announced Wednesday night.
The news came during the annual Evening of Excellence celebration presented by the Pinellas Education Foundation at Mahaffey Theater.
Boyce teaches students at Tyrone Middle’s Center for Innovation and Digital Learning, a two-year-old magnet program that aims to nurture a wave of "digital natives" — kids with the kind of technological intuition the job market craves.
In a nominating form for the award, Tyrone principal Robin Mobley wrote that Boyce excels at turning kids who hate math into "scholars who love going to math class." She said Boyce helps colleagues by sharing teaching advice over Twitter and spends time getting to know her students.
"When I am having a low moment during the day, Jessie’s classroom is one of my choices to go and be uplifted," the principal said.
According to a statement from the education foundation, Boyce has been teaching for 10 years, the last five at Tyrone. Over the years, she has taught both math and science. She received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Grove City College in 2008 and a master’s in instructional leadership from Robert Morris University in 2013.
She is an ambassador for several educational technology companies including Kahoot and Flipgrid, and is a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert. She writes, provides training, speaks at conferences and blogs about education, the statement said.
Boyce will receive cash and prizes totaling about $10,000 in value.
Also Wednesday, the foundation announced that Pinellas teacher Jenni Herman had won the Outstanding Educator Fan Favorite Award, based on the number of votes received on its Facebook page. Herman is a second-grade teacher at Pinellas Central Elementary.
The two winners were among 10 finalists selected by a panel of judges from 126 nominees in the fall.
On Thursday morning, by tradition, Boyce will be driven to school in a limousine.