Kera Jonovitch had a lot to be happy about Thursday morning.
As the seventh-grade Manatee Middle School math teacher prepared to give out awards to her students, Scholastica Choi, the school’s principal, announced the school saw significant gains in the math portion of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.
“We’re here to honor all of you seventh-graders,” Choi said. “Everyone who made gains and put forth their best effort should give themselves a hand.”
That included Jonovitch, who moments later was named the Teacher of the Year by the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce.
“This is an award each and every one of you (students) voted for,” said Joyce McFarland, chairwoman of the chamber’s education committee. “That’s why this is important.”
Esmerelda Wilkinson, a certified paraprofessional at the school, was named the Support Staff of the Year.
For the past 10 years the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce, in collaboration with the Naples Daily News, has honored one teacher and member of the support staff for schools which Marco Island students attend.
Teacher and support staff honorees are chosen based on student votes. Each year students from all of the feeder schools vote in February and March on who they want to win in each category.
“This means a lot coming from you and not the other teachers,” Jonovich told students.
Jonovitch has been at teacher at Manatee Middle for three years, and has taught all of the seventh-grade math students. Prior to announcing the teacher of the year recipient, McFarland read comments students wrote about Jonovich.
“(This teacher) not only teaches a subject, but also teaches life lessons along the way,” one student wrote.
Wilkinson, who works with students in the afternoon, said she was surprised to be given the award.
“This is a shock,” she said. “It took my breath away. I feel like my efforts are being recognized.”