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Kay Park of Alimacani Elementary School is the 2016 Florida Blue Teacher of the Year. She and this year's semifinalists will be honored Saturday during the Jacksonville Jaguars game at EverBank Field.
Jax Daily Record Wednesday, Dec. 21, 201612:00 PM EST

City notes: 15 Duval County teachers selected as semifinalists for Florida Blue Teacher of the Year


Fifteen Duval County teachers were selected as semifinalists for the 2017 Florida Blue Teacher of the Year.

The winner will be named Feb. 24 at the 26th annual Eddy Awards dinner at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront. The awards are an initiative of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund.

Tickets are $75 each and are available at

The semifinalists, chosen from nominees from each Duval County public school, are:

•    Allison Bear, J. Allen Axson Montessori School

•    Michael Bostic-Jones, William Raines High School

•    Latrece Brown, Andrew Robinson Elementary School

•    Kelly Crayne, Seabreeze Elementary School

•    Melissa Galjour, Sandalwood High School

•    Jacquelyn Gandy, Thomas Jefferson Elementary School

•    Vincent Hall II, Twin Lakes Academy Middle School

•    Holly Hultgren, Frank H. Peterson Academies of Technology

•    Aurelio Cruz Lorente, West Riverside Elementary School

•    Simon Michael III, Kernan Middle School

•    Rade Obradovic, Hyde Park Elementary School

•    Brent Sawdy, Lake Shore International Baccaulaureate World Middle School

•    Caitlyn Stetson, Reynolds Lane Elementary School

•    Korry VanWagoner, Twin Lakes Elementary School

•    Jeanne Walker, Waterleaf Elementary School

The semifinalists and last year’s winner, Kay Park, will be recognized Saturday during a ceremony on the field at the Jacksonville Jaguars game at EverBank Field.

Advice to JU grads: Embrace the decisions you make in life

As more than 350 Jacksonville University students prepared to receive their degrees, Quinton White shared what he’s learned about decisions made along life’s path.

Life-changing experiences often appear without notice, he said, but typically are the result of earlier decisions.

“Take them as the gifts they are and appreciate the people who helped make them possible,” said White, executive director of JU’s Marine Science Research Institute, during the fall commencement ceremony.

“Your life will not be determined by any one big decision, but by countless little ones,” he said, according to a news release. “Most with unseen consequences. Relax and just work hard and do your best.”

White also talked about the dangers of “fake news,” the value of reading newspapers, books and magazines to understand why things are happening and the importance of communicating with people by talking to them versus through texting and social media.

The Fred B. Noble Gold Medal for Scholarship was awarded to Gregory Scott Milligan of Jacksonville, who had the highest cumulative grade point average in the class. Milligan received a Bachelor of Business Administration with a double major in sustainability and management.

Dawson joins alma mater's P.R. team

Amanda Dawson started Monday as a full-time public relations specialist at her alma mater, the University of North Florida.

She has been working part-time in the Public Relations Department since graduating from UNF in 2015 with a degree in communications.

Dawson was co-owner of TJ’s Rocks, a local gem and mineral wholesale company, where she handled public relations, event coordination and marketing.

Her duties at UNF include daily e-communications and the university’s social media platforms.

Gibraltar Title Services renovates

Gibraltar Title Services has renovated the company’s main branch office at 4190 Belfort Road, Suite 475.

The newly designed space promotes camaraderie and collaboration for the 11-person team, according to a news release. The company provides title insurance and real estate closing services.

Gibraltar was founded in 1994 by Michael Hughes. The general manager is Alan Copertino.

The company is a partner of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Network Realty.

New Year’s Eve with the music of Frank Sinatra and fireworks

What better way to bring in the New Year than with the music of Frank Sinatra.

The Jacksonville Symphony’s New Year’s Eve concert features Sinatra’s music, with guest vocalists Tony DeSare and Montego Glover. Guest conductor is Steven Reineke, music director of the New York Pops at Carnegie Hall.

DeSare has three Top 10 Billboard jazz albums. Glover, a two-time Tony Award nominee, has appeared on Broadway in “Les Miserables.”

Tickets for “Music of Frank Sinatra — The Best is Yet to Come” are $27 to $77.

The symphony also is hosting an after party that includes The Chris Thomas Band and being able to watch the midnight fireworks from the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets for the party are $25 for general admission and $40 for VIP.

For information, visit or call (904) 354-5547.

UNF makes Kiplinger’s annual list of Best College Values in U.S.

For the sixth straight year, the University of North Florida made Kiplinger’s list of the Top 300 Best College Values.

The university ranked No. 74 on the personal finance magazine’s list of 100 best values in public colleges, according to a news release. Its overall ranking in the Top 300 schools was 220.

The rankings are based on several criteria, including student-to-faculty ratio, four-year graduation rate and average debt at graduation.

UNF received other national designations this year, such as Best in the Southeast by the Princeton Review and Best Regional University by U.S. News & World Report.

The other Florida schools that made Kiplinger’s list and their overall rankings are: Florida International University (213), Florida State University (85), New College of Florida (110), Rollins College (258), University of Central Florida (161), University of Florida (53), University of Miami (124) and University of South Florida (126).

The rankings are available at

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