More ways to keep up with the latest news from Polk County Public Schools:

Jessica Solano - Florida Teacher of the Year Finalist

Polk County Public Schools Educator is a Finalist for Florida Teacher of the Year

May 5, 2016


Jessica Solano Photo GalleryJessica Solano of Highlands Grove Elementary School is in the running to become Florida’s 2017 Teacher of the Year.

Solano, a third grade teacher, was named a finalist on Wednesday during a surprise announcement at her school in Lakeland. She was presented with a $15,000 check from Macy’s and the Florida Department of Education; Highlands Grove Elementary also received a $1,000 check from Macy’s.

Solano was named Polk County Public Schools’ 2016 Teacher of the Year in February. She is the 13th Polk public school teacher to compete for the honor at the state level; three finalists from Polk ultimately won the title.

Solano has been noted for her willingness to challenge her students and herself. A third grade teacher with seven years of experience, she also works as the technology integration coach at Highlands Grove, frequently incorporating new tools in her classroom to enhance her students’ learning.

Outside of school, Solano works as a volunteer teacher at a youth ranch for foster children.

The winner of the 2017 Macy’s/Florida Department of Education Teacher of the Year award will be announced during a ceremony on Thursday, July 14, 2016. The event will be held at Orlando’s Hard Rock Live at Universal Studios CityWalk.

In addition to a $20,000 award funded by the Department of Education and Macy’s, the Teacher of the Year will receive awards from Macy’s including an all-expense paid trip for four to New York City to attend the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The winner will also serve for one year as the Christa McAuliffe Ambassador for Education, touring the state to spread the word about educational opportunities and challenges in the Sunshine State.

This year’s five finalists were chosen from more than 194,500 public school teachers throughout the state by a Department of Education-appointed selection committee representing teachers, principals, parents and the business community. Each finalist is selected on the basis of outstanding ability to teach and communicate knowledge of the subject taught, professional development, philosophy of teaching, and outstanding school and community service.