Alachua County Public Schools names 2020 Teacher of the Year

Published: Jan. 30, 2020 at 11:51 PM EST
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More than 500 people gathered to celebrate Alachua County school teachers. It's the annual teacher of the year ceremony.

Parents, students and educators of Alachua County came to Trinity United Methodist church to cheer on their school's teacher of the year. Forty-eight teachers are chosen by their peers to represent each Alachua County public school as teacher of the year.

Olanrewaju Fayiga, a math teacher, was awarded Buchholz High School's teacher of the year.

"My favorite part is really disseminating knowledge, trying to facilitate other people learning and I've been doing that even before I graduated high school. Even some of my friends from high school call me math teacher, that's what they call me."

Three finalists were chosen to represent elementary, middle and high schools. Each finalist teaches a different subject, grade level and at a different school.

Finalist Kirk Tapley teaches Advanced World History at Howard Bishop Middle School. Tapley is a product of Alachua County Public Schools from elementary to high school.

"And then I went to middle school at Howard Bishop where I actually teach now and then after I went to Buchholz High School and every single step of the way I've learned more skills that have helped me in my life."

Tapley added, "And then when it came time for me to decide where I'm going to teach. I'm like this is my home, this is where I want to raise my family when I eventually have a family. And I believe in everything the county tries to do from an education perspective."

One winner couldn't be there. Kelly Wyckoff, a Newberry Elementary teacher, was diagnosed with breast cancer just two days after her 50th birthday. Her son Landon accepted her teacher of the year award on her behalf.

Alachua County Superintendent Karen Clarke honored Wyckoff and said, "So kelly we miss you tonight but we know that you're here with us in spirit. Keep up your fight, keep fighting and we're all behind you 100%"

Alachua County teacher of the year was awarded to Kirk Tapley. At Howard Bishop Middle School, Tapley not only teaches his sixth-graders world history but makes sure they leave his classroom with the life skills to succeed.