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Cape teacher finalist for 2009 Teacher of the Year

By Staff | Feb 4, 2009

The Lee County School District will announce the 2009 Teacher of the Year on Friday morning after the educator receives a surprise visit from members of the school board, the superintendent and other district staff.
Forty-five teachers from across the county were nominated this year in many different grade levels and subject areas, while only five were announced as finalists.
The finalists include: Christopher Anderson from Lehigh Elementary, Terry Huge from Lehigh Senior High, Jeff Kulie from Cypress Lake Center for the Arts, Jane Nordquist from Ida S. Baker High and Neva Weisskopf from Alva Middle.
The 2009 winner is automatically in the running for the Florida Teacher of the Year award conducted by the state Department of Education.
Nordquist, a math teacher at Ida S. Baker High for the past five years, is the only nominee from a school in Cape Coral.
Teaching math can be challenging, but Nordquist said she tries to connect mathematical principles taught in the classroom with real world applications.
“It has to do with keeping the kids engaged with what they do and how it applies to the real world,” said Nordquist.
One of her algebra II classes simulated the decay of a biological organism by rolling dice and applying the results to math, while pre-calculus students investigated how story problems apply to engineering, architecture and landscaping.
“I go out of my way to make them successful. It’s not about me. It really is about making the kids the best they can be,” she said.
In 2008 Suzanne Corace, a physical education teacher at Trafalgar Elementary, was named Teacher of the Year. She focused on teaching the “whole child” and also sponsored a Marine Science Club, an Ecology Club and K-5 Track Team.
Teacher of the Year winners receive two free tickets to an event at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall, a $100 gift certificate to the Veranda, a gift certificate to ‘Tween Waters Inn, a designer name badge, a 14-karat gold lapel pin, complimentary photography by Bryn-Alan Photography Studio, two tickets to a show at Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre and a box of chocolates from Norman Love Confections.