Miami teacher chosen as finalist for Florida Teacher of the Year

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (WSVN) — The Florida Department of Education and Macy’s announced one of five finalists for the 2017 Teacher of the Year program, Tuesday. 

The program honors outstanding teachers in Florida who have inspired a love of learning in students of all backgrounds and abilities.

One of this year’s finalists is Precious Symonette from Miami Norland Senior High School.

Symonette heard the news in her own classroom. "I am here on behalf of the Florida Department of Education and Macy’s to congratulate you on being a finalist for Teacher of the Year for the state," said Florida Department of Education commissioner Pam Stewart.

Symonette was moved to tears by all of the excitement. "Thank you all for this opportunity," she said. "I really appreciate it. Thank you."

Symonette said she has wanted to be a teacher for years and feels it’s her responsibility to help children. Symonette works to achieve this goal and even leads a "Freedom Writers Club," where she inspires students. "When I first met her, she accepted me for being loud," said student Kayla Williams. "She accepted me for being me, and she came like a mother, and it was completely crazy. Since then, I wanted to be a part of all she did."

Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho was in attendance and recognized Symonette’s hard work. "She has focused on kids," said Carvalho. "She has both inspired and is an inspirational teacher. She takes a great deal of pride in the creative writing that she teaches her pupils, and her freedom writers, I think, are her greatest creation."

Symonette received a $15,000 award funded by the Florida Department of Education, as well as a $500 gift card from Macy’s.

The principal of the school also received a $1,000 grant funded by Macy’s.