The Okaloosa School District recently selected Royal Preston, a construction teacher at Okaloosa Technical College, as its Teacher of the Year recipient. Although Mr. Preston has received his accolades, the candidates from area schools are worth noticing.
Representing Eglin Elementary School, Crystal Cheeseman said she is proud to be in her eighth year of teaching in the Okaloosa district.
She received her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Northwest Florida State College and earned her master’s in reading education at the University of West Florida. Cheeseman continues her personal education as she works to become an education specialist in school counseling through Florida State University.
For six years, Cheeseman has taught second grade at Eglin Elementary School, and she extends thanks to both her family and to the staff of Eglin Elementary School for their continuous support.
Cindy Jannazo began teaching 22 years ago in the Okaloosa School District, during which time she taught high school math and middle school math and science. She represents The Lewis School as its Teacher of the Year.
“I started my teaching career here at Lewis, teaching math to seventh-graders,” Jannazo wrote in an email. “Since then, I have taught fifth-, sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade science, as well as biology, Earth space, environmental science and (Advanced International Certificate of Education) Thinking skills at Niceville High School.”
She coaches cross-country running at Lewis school, “because I love to run, though I’m much slower than I used to be,” Jannazo said.
“I had the opportunity to return to Lewis (in 2014) when a science position became available, and I jumped at the opportunity,” she continued. “Lewis is home.
“I really enjoy what I do and love seeing that ‘Ah-ha’ moment when my students realize that they understand the lesson being taught,” Jannazo added.
The Okaloosa Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medical (STEMM) Academy recognized Mary Catherine Puffer as its Teacher of the Year.
“I was very honored to have been able to accept this award on behalf of my school,” Puffer wrote in an email. “I couldn’t have done it without the support of my husband, Cody, my children, Isaiah and Carter, and my fellow teacher mentors.”
Puffer holds a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s in education, with certification in English Language Arts (ELA) and social sciences.
Teaching at the STEMM Academy for three years, she works with seventh-graders in English language arts, but she has also taught world history and creative writing.
Puffer serves as the grade-level liaison and the ELA department head. In addition, she is the faculty advisor for the STEMM’s National Junior Honor Society.