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Wildwood teacher, finalist for state’s top educator, builds strong relationships with students

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Wildwood Elementary School third and fourth grade language arts teacher Brittany Brown is one of five finalists for Florida's teacher of the year. Photo: Joe Byrnes, WMFE

On Tuesday, Francisco Garaitonandia, an art teacher at Volusia County’s Citrus Grove Elementary, learned he was one of five finalists for Florida’s teacher of the year.

On Wednesday, similar good news came to Wildwood Elementary School in Sumter County.

Brittany Brown. Photo: Joe Byrnes, WMFE

Brittany Brown was reading from the class novel when a line of people carrying balloons and cameras barged into her fourth grade classroom.

Florida Chancellor of Public Education Jacob Oliva spoke first.

“And I am here to announce right now to Mrs. Brown and your class that she is one of the top five finalists for Florida’s …,” Oliva said a cheers broke out.

Florida’s teacher of the year will be announced in July.

Brown’s principals — past and present — say what really makes the language arts teacher stand out is the way she relates with students.

Here’s how Brown explains it.

“I know that, in order for the students to see success, we have to first build that relationship,” she said. “They have to trust me. And they have to know that I have their best interest at heart. And then once we establish that, then they soar.”

So they get the final word: “Congratulations, Mrs. Brown!”

Brittany Brown posed for photos with her students after being named a finalist for state teacher of the year on Wednesday. Photo: Joe Byrnes, WMFE


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Joe Byrnes

About Joe Byrnes


Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.