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Mandarin High history teacher Jim Schmitt named Florida Teacher of the Year finalist

Schmitt is one of five finalists that were selected throughout Florida out of the state's more than 185,000 public school teachers.
Credit: Jerial Fennell

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Mandarin High School history teacher Jim Schmitt was greeted by a few more visitors in his classroom compared to his usual batch of students on Tuesday morning. With a giant banner in hand, Florida Department of Education officials let the veteran teacher know that he was a 2022 Florida Teacher of the Year Finalist. 

Schmitt is one of five finalists that were selected throughout Florida out of the state's more than 185,000 public school teachers. Each year, the Department of Education selects finalists from a pool of district Teachers of the Year. 

In January, Schmitt — who has been in the field for 27 years — was named Duval County's Teacher of the Year. He was recognized for his work developing a writing program for at-risk students, writing a $10,000 grant for a school-to-work program and for serving as a standards coach. Before he became a teacher, Schmitt served as a Lieutenant in the United States Navy.

Already a winner:Mandarin High School's Jim Schmitt named Duval County Teacher of the Year 2021

A Look Back:Duval County Teacher of the Year winners, 2008-2021

“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," said Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran. "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."

Wearing a pink mask and matching shirt, Schmitt was "ambushed" by Public Schools Chancellor Jacob Oliva, Deputy Chancellor for Educator Quality Paul Burns, Duval Schools Superintendent Diana Greene and more. Throughout Florida, four other finalists are also being surprised in their classrooms with the good news.

“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," Superintendent Greene said in a statement.

From 2020:Okeechobee County teacher Krista Stanley name Florida teacher of the Year

Schmitt is known for having a hands-on approach when it comes to teaching history as well as global perspectives and research. His students have praised him for trying new techniques and keeping the class engaged. 

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

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

Emily Bloch is an education reporter for The Florida Times-Union. Follow her on Twitter or email her.

You can read more from our news partners at the Florida Times-Union.