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Fruitland Park Elementary teacher among Lake Schools Teacher of the Year finalists

Rikki Parisoe

A Fruitland Park teacher is among the finalists for the 2022 Lake County Schools Teacher of the Year.

Rikki Parisoe, a first-grade teacher at Fruitland Park Elementary, joins Joshua Wintersdorf, an algebra teacher at Umatilla Middle School, and Shannon Clark, a fourth-grade teacher at Eustis Heights Elementary School as the district’s finalists for the prestigious award. They were notified Wednesday by Superintendent Diane Kornegay, School Board members Mark Dodd and Stephanie Luke, and a caravan of representatives from the district, the Education Foundation of Lake County and Jenkins Auto Group.

Parisoe has been teaching for nine years and in addition to curriculum, she has been instrumental in supporting students and their parents/guardians with navigating the technology used by Lake Live teachers at Fruitland Park Elementary.

Parisoe’s dedication to classroom learning extends beyond her students in her role as an intern supervisor for future educators. She credits her parents as the source of her inspiration and wrote in her award application, “Each student carries within them beautiful strengths and areas of vulnerability. My mom taught me to magnify their strengths, and support and love them in their time of vulnerability. My parents inspire me to carry on their legacies while forging one of my own.”

Joshua Wintersdorf

Wintersdorf has been at Umatilla Middle School for his entire education career and teaches Algebra 1 to sixth- and seventh-graders. He is proud of his passion for math, which has resulted in improvements in student test scores. As a teacher leader, Wintersdorf has been instrumental in helping fellow teachers analyze their assessments to make adjustments and improve student performance.

In addition to creating a positive classroom experience, Wintersdorf has been heavily involved in the school’s athletic department and has coached flag football, basketball and soccer teams.

Wintersdorf’s dedication to the profession has not gone unnoticed, having been named the Umatilla Middle School Rookie Teacher of the Year in 2014 and Teacher of the Year in 2017.

“My students keep me on my toes every day and inspire me to become not only a stronger teacher, but a stronger individual,” he wrote in his award application.

Shannon Clark

Clark has been a teacher for seven years, the last five at Eustis Heights Elementary. Teaching fourth grade language arts and social studies, Clark has a proven track record in improving student performance and her classroom has been a model for other educators to observe. Last summer, Clark was asked to join a district writing team whose blueprints for instruction are now being used in elementary schools across the district.

The foundation that Clark has nurtured for her students is paying off.

“Seeing the successes of my former students inspires me,” wrote Clark in her award application. “I love to hear they’re in honors classes or have made a varsity team.”

She referenced a grandparent who shared that her former student made eighth-grade honor roll.

“I couldn’t help but smile,” she wrote. “The path is not always easy, but it is worth it!”

At a celebration on Jan. 28, one of the three finalists will be named Lake’s newest Teacher of the Year and will drive away with the grand prize, a 2021 Honda Accord from Jenkins Auto Group. The Lake winner will go on to compete at the state level for the title of Florida Teacher of the Year.

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