Bell instructor named finalist for top teacher

The Florida Department of Education (FDOE) selected a Bell Elementary School teacher on Thursday as one of five finalists for the State of Florida 2023 Teacher of the Year.

Trinity Brooke Whittington teaches fourth-grade English language arts and social studies at Bell Elementary for the Gilchrist County School District. The surprise announcement was made at the Bell school on Thursday morning with Dr. Paul Burns, deputy chancellor for educator quality, noting the honor.

“We are very proud of Trinity Brooke Whittington,” Dr. Jim Surrency, the Gilchrist County superintendent, and in an FDOE release. “She’s an outstanding teacher and excellent role model for our entire community.”

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According to the FDOE release, Whittington, a Gilchrist County native, also teaches about service by leading school-wide efforts to provide blankets to the local nursing home, and by starting a library swap program to promote literacy.

Trinity Brooke Whittington
Bell Elementary School teacher Trinity Brooke Whittington. 

“Mrs. Whittington’s classroom is a place of magic, where children are hooked from the moment they enter until the moment they leave,” said Suzanne Mathe, principal of Bell Elementary School, in a statement. “The relationships she develops with students, parents and colleagues are true and binding.”

The FDOE announced the five finalists for 2023 Teacher of the Year from nearly 185,000 public school teachers throughout the state. The winner, which will be announced on July 14 in Orlando, will serve for one year as the Christa McAuliffe Ambassador for Education.

Gilchrist County School District serves around 2,800 students across four schools in Trenton and Bell. Bell Elementary School has around 670 students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade.

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