Alachua County Public Schools Honors Our Amazing Teachers

By Amanda Roland
amazing teachers

Out of all the amazing teachers in the Alachua County Public Schools (ACPS) system, three teachers were chosen to be the 2021 Teacher of the Year finalists!

Pictured above: LEFT: Teacher: Amy Beres Subject Area: Music/Band Director School: Howard Bishop Middle School TOP RIGHT: Teacher: Nicole Harris Subject Area: English, English Honors, African/ African-American History School: Gainesville High School BOTTOM RIGHT: Teacher: Mackenzie McNickle Subject Area: Gifted 2nd – 5th grade School: Stephen Foster Elementary School

The finalists included elementary school teacher Mackenzie McNickle, middle school teacher Amy Beres and high school teacher Nicole Harris. Mackenzie McNickle teaches gifted 2nd through 5th-grade at Stephen Foster Elementary School. She has also worked as an adjunct professor at the University of Florida. McNickle says she didn’t have great experiences as a math student herself, so helping her students love math is the best part of her job, according to an ACPS press release.

Amy Beres has taught music for 25 years! She has been the band director at Howard Bishop Middle School for more than 10 years, and her bands continue to win superior and excellent ratings at state conferences.

“When I started in band in middle school, I finally felt I belonged, and I knew from that moment I wanted to be a band director,” said Beres in the press release. “I wanted to give other kids a place that gave them purpose and meaning.”

Finally, Nicole Harris has been a teacher at Gainesville High School for 10 years teaching English, English Honors and African/African-American History. Harris has also established programs outside the classroom to promote social awareness and expression among local students, such as the Canes on Da Mic Literacy Arts and Civic Engagement organization, which brings together students for ‘poetry slam’ competitions, according to the press release.

After all the hardships that the school system endured in 2020, I think we can all agree that every teacher and school staff member deserves an award this year. Our ACPS employees have been working hard to keep our kiddos safe while still delivering a quality education to all students – whether it was in the classroom or over Zoom. So, let’s give a round of applause for the three TOY finalists and for all the teachers in Alachua County.

And the winner is…NICOLE HARRIS!

On January 21, 2021, Nicole Harris was announced the ACPS 2021 Teacher of the Year. Congratulations, and thank you for your hard work as an Alachua County Public Schools teacher!

“While some of my students have never traveled outside of Florida, or Gainesville for that matter,
it is my responsibility to create global citizens,” said Harris at the Teacher of the Year Celebration. “I teach so students can see humanity first in themselves, their peers and the world at large.”


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