OKEECHOBEE — Newly announced 2021 Florida Teacher of the Year Krista Stanley received recognition in a “car parade” at Yearling Middle School on Aug. 6. Students, coworkers and the community members drove by the YMS bus loop to greet Mrs. Stanley and congratulate her on her accomplishment.
It was the Okeechobee County School District’s way of celebrating and honoring Krista’s accomplishment in a time of COVID-19 and social distancing.
“I am thankful for the support I have received from my family, friends, colleagues and community,” said Krista on being named state Teacher of the Year. “There are many incredible educators deserving of this recognition, and it is humbling to be selected.”
YMS Principal David Krakoff wrote a letter to Mrs. Stanley after the state announced she had been selected. He read that letter to Krista at a small gathering of YMS staff on Aug. 6.
“Whenever doubt creeps into my head about whether we will ever truly serve all students, give all students equitable access to rigor, I walk myself to your classroom,” read Mr. Karakoff’s letter. “I have plopped myself down in the corner of your room and can’t fend off a smile from enveloping my face as I watched you customize your lesson. You have made every single one of your students better, you have enhanced your colleagues’ instructional capabilities and effectiveness, and you have made your principal a better leader.”
After graduating from Florida State University in 2016, Krista returned to her home in Okeechobee to take up a position at YMS as a sixth-grade math teacher.
“As an educator, we have the pure joy of serving our students on a daily basis,” explained Krista. “They are the reason I’m an educator, to build relationships that foster a lifetime of growth not only academically, but socially and emotionally.
Krista graduated from Okeechobee High School, making her the second Brahman in three years who has earned Teacher of the Year honors. In 2018, former OHS alum and Glades County teacher Joy Prescott was awarded the same title that Krista now carries.
“As a graduate of the Okeechobee County School District, I was blessed with exceptional teachers,” Krista said. “Many teachers I had set high expectations while showing compassion and empathy for individual students. I was always treated with respect and kindness. Their mentorship has had a significant impact on the educator I am today. I am eternally grateful for Okeechobee County schools and the educators who serve this district.”
Those named Florida Teacher of the Year also serve as the Christa McAuliffe Ambassador for Education for the state. In this role, the teacher serves as a goodwill ambassador representing the Florida Department of Education and teachers throughout the state.
“As the 2021 Florida Teacher of the Year, I will work to create a greater public awareness of Florida’s outstanding teachers and elevate the teaching profession,” Mrs. Stanley said of her plans. “I will have the opportunity to promote and celebrate the countless contributions of Florida’s teachers, provide professional learning opportunities to educators and inspire current and future teachers across the state.”
Mr. Krakoff acknowledged that Krista’s presence will be missed as she goes on to serve the state as a goodwill ambassador.
“We are going to miss you at Yearling Middle School,” said Mr. Krakoff in his letter to Krista. “Your absence will feel like a black hole because of all of the people you have touched. But you will engage in the ultimate act of servant leadership. You will, in addition to promotion of teachers, share your most successful practices with educational leaders across our state. Just as you have across Yearling Middle School’s campus, your work will make other teachers and leaders stronger, and now you will paint with an even wider brush. You are about to influence students in all of Florida’s counties.”