During the 2018-19 school year, three of our Upper School teachers, Jessica Kolodetsky, Josh Moore, and Tonya Singleton, were chosen to receive The Barrett Family Foundation Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teacher Award.
Our faculty members represented three out of the twelve winners and our school represented one out of 49 schools from four counties who had teachers submit entries. Winners were selected based on recommendation letters from the school head, a colleague, a student, their resume and personal letter, and a 3-5 minute video.
Each of the winners was presented with a $10,000 tax-free cash award. In addition, Amy Smith, Farragut Upper School Mathematics Teacher and 2017-18 Winner, was a guest speaker at the event.
About the Award
The Barrett Family Foundation Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teacher Award was created in 2013 as a vehicle to award outstanding math and science high school teachers from private and public schools in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Sarasota counties. Through this award, The Barrett Family Foundation proudly honors outstanding high school teachers who share their energy and enthusiasm for science or mathematics through creative and innovative methods. In total, The Barrett Family Foundation has awarded $270,000 to local high school math and science teachers and $30,000 to local high school’s math and science departments.
Meet Our Teachers
Jessica Kolodetsky, Upper School Mathematics
“During my past fifteen years of teaching and as the wife of a retired military sponsor, I have had the opportunity to teach multiple levels across five different states. This has provided me with a unique opportunity to teach a variety of students and share my passion for learning. As a lifelong learner, I am always looking for new innovative teaching methodologies to incorporate into my lessons. I truly believe that now is an exciting time to be a teacher, with the advancements in technology and current brain research on neurological connections, we have even more insight into how the brain learns. We know that new experiences can structurally and functionally change the brain by building connections only when we use teaching strategies that are most aligned with how the brain learns. I am constantly on the search for any new classes or professional development that allows me to be a more effective teacher.”
Mrs. Kolodetsky earned her B.S. in Administration in 2003 and her M.S.A. in Administration in 2005 from Central Michigan University. With the $10,000 award, she plans to continue schooling and earn her doctorate in administration.
Josh Moore, Upper School Mathematics
“Most teachers can attribute their passion for teaching to an inspirational teacher they themselves had during their general education. I am not one of those teachers. I was not a stellar student in my youth. I was the youngest in a family of high school dropouts. I was preceded in high school by an older brother that did not create the best reputation. Coming from a small town, by the time I reached high school the bar was set rather low for me by my teachers and parents. I was not expected to succeed, and I did not exceed those expectations. When I became the first person in my family to graduate high school, I assumed my academic ability was far lower than those of my college seeking peers. I had completed four years of high school and I never once had a teacher or counselor speak to me about the potential of college. As I’ve grown older, I’ve often wondered how different my life may have been if I had a teacher encourage or see some potential in me during these important formative years. This is something that I remember to this day and do my best to make sure every one of my students can see the potential they have before them.”
Mr. Moore earned his B.S. in Mathematics Education in 2015 from Saint Petersburg College and is currently in the process of earning his M.S. in Mathematical Sciences from the University of West Florida. With the $10,000 award, he plans to pay for his final year of his master’s program.
Tonya Singleton, Upper School Scuba
“Teaching was never part of my career plan, but thankfully that is where I am today. As a child growing up in the mountains of West Virginia all I wanted to do was study the ocean. After graduating from high school I attended college at Coastal Carolina University near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It was there I discovered my true passion of being under the water. Although, my major, at the time, was Marine Science I found my drive and curiosity was to understand the underwater more by being there myself. Ultimately, I decided to focus more on dive certifications and learning the physics and physiology of this mysterious world before devoting my life to something I didn’t know anything about. Once I discovered that this is where I should be, I transferred to the University of South Florida to study Environmental Science. During my senior year, I was lucky enough to receive an internship at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission where eventually I accepted a job as a Biological Scientist. I then realized that I so enjoyed teaching my community and the public about our underwater world and this beautiful ecosystem for which we live. This is when I thought my life would better be spent teaching children about the underwater world, and no matter what, you can have a career that involves your passion. It is so rewarding to see how happy students are when they realize they can breathe underwater and face their fears. I tell them this is the closest thing to outer space I will ever get to because they are quite similar. You can accomplish goals in so many different ways no matter how long it takes.”
Mrs. Singleton earned her B.S. in Environmental Science and Policy in 2007 from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. With the $10,000 award, she plans to help put a down payment on a new home for their family.