Third Visit: Kate Fiori, Vero Beach Elementary School, Vero Beach - Visiting Vero Beach Elementary School was delightful! I was greeted with a cute sign welcoming me and happy smiles from the clerical staff. As I walked through the teachers’ lounge area, there were huge charts posted on the walls. They showed the growth classes were making toward mastering their standards, and there was a pineapple chart for teachers...


     Second Visit: Vanessa Ko, Palm Harbor Middle School, Palm Harbor - Palm Harbor Middle School is a beautiful school. Bright posters and student work adorned the walls showing their Panther Pride. The office staff was very friendly and employed students as office assistants to check-in and escort visitors across campus. The young man who accompanied me was very friendly and made polite conversation as we walked to...


     This blog series is going to be a blast! I am visiting the classrooms of some amazing teachers, the other four 2018 Florida Teacher of the Year finalists. The five of us, Diego Fuentes, Vanessa Ko, Kate Fiori, Mike Miller and I instantly became the best of friends and devoted colleagues during our time spent together during the interview process and TOY roundtable week last summer. I have great respect and admiration for...


Since my children graduated from high school and left home to pursue their dreams, it has been hard to get everyone home at the same time. This year, all four of my children were able to travel home for spring break. Having them all together reminded me of how unique each child is and, for the three who are teachers, how unique their classrooms must be as well. Being intrigued by the many different classrooms I have visited ac...


This Valentine’s Day, I am excited to serve up the Florida Standards in the sweetest way possible – PERFECT CHOCOLATE CAKE! My grandmother first made this recipe in 1982, and it quickly took the top spot in our hearts. I hope that your family enjoys this delicious dessert and the many great opportunities it provides for learning!    



1 cup cocoa

2 cups boiling water

1 cup but...


Today, I am thrilled to share two recipes that are perfect for holiday potlucks!  They are portable and easy to save if there are leftovers, although I doubt there will be with my dad’s favorite pineapple casserole.  Try these easy-to-make and easy-to-take recipes with your children and WOW your loved ones!  You may even want to add them to your New Year's Day Dinner.



2 20-ounce...


The holidays are well underway, and I am excited to share two more of my prized family recipes.  I hope that you and your families enjoy these delicious new menu items and that these tips help you incorporate learning into your food preparation.

The first recipe is JOY SALAD, from my Aunt Shirley.

JOY SALAD (Serves 10-12)


2 large heads of romaine lettuce

½ cup olive oil

¼ cup red wine vinegar

½ cup sugar

1 cup sliced almon...


As Christmas approaches and we put together our menu for the Jerkins family dinner, I can’t help but think of dessert.  Our family loves dessert and it is always the hardest part of the menu to choose.  This year, we’ve decided on Hummingbird Cake.  I am thrilled to share this recipe with you because it was one of my grandfather’s favorites that we have been cooking for almost 40 years.  Plus, it offers many great opportu...


One of my dear friends, Margaret Wesley, shared this fantastic recipe for GELATIN FRUIT SALAD with my family.  Margaret made something special for every church potluck, and she made you feel special when you talked to her.  Talking to your children is the same.  When parents make the time to be completely present with their children and give them undivided attention, it helps them develop the self-esteem and confidence they ne...


Our family recipe book is a collection of delicious foods with recipes from so many different people.  I hope you were able to try last week’s green bean bundles!  This week, I am excited to bring you two of our family favorites: marinated carrots and sweet potato casserole. 


Getting your children to eat their vegetables can be a challenge, but my mother-in-law had the solution with this...


In the Jerkins home, the holiday season is a time for family. We love to cook and eat, but most of all, we love spending hours together in the kitchen preparing for a feast. As Thanksgiving and the winter holidays approach, families throughout Florida will gather together, presenting fun learning opportunities.

Over the next five weeks, I will share some of my family’s favorite holiday recipes, along with tips to help you bri...


Excitement, enthusiasm, and a little nervous energy!  The pre-service teachers at the Florida Gulf Coast University’s (FGCU) Eagles Educate Annual Mini Conference reminded me of how I felt many years ago when I began teaching.  We all feel these emotions, and it is important that we don’t allow our nerves to keep us from acting in the best interests of our students.   

I learned this lesson early in my career wit...


In part four of my first blog series Volunteering to Learn, I will introduce you to Mrs. Karyl Elton.  Like all teachers, she absolutely loved her craft, but what set her apart was her ability to develop a community within her high school classroom.


Being the choral director at Leesburg High School, Mrs. Karyl Elton worked with students of many grade levels.  She believed that all students could learn to sing,...


Volunteering in classrooms has greatly impacted my teaching practice. Last week I shared about Mrs. Kertz’s ability to reinforce positive behaviors and differentiate instruction in her first grade class.  In this post, I’ll open the door to Ms. Whitaker’s middle school English classroom.


Creative, enthusiastic, and engaging!  Anyone who walked into Ms. Judie Whitaker’s classroom at Carver Middle School i...


In last week’s post, I blogged about how volunteering with different teachers exposed me to the unique strategies that make their classrooms successful.  This week, I am excited to share about the elementary classroom that transformed my teaching.


Three of my children had the blessing of having Mrs. Nancy Kertz as their first grade teacher at Skeen Elementary School in Leesburg.  I volunteered in her room severa...

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