Oriole Beach’s Liz Mann named Santa Rosa Teacher of the Year
GULF BREEZE — The entourage of a dozen or so people followed Santa Rosa County School District Superintendent Tim Wyrosdick as he walked quickly down a hallway at Oriole Beach Elementary School on Wednesday morning.
Wyrosdick wanted the surprise to hit home — and it certainly did — as he presented Oriole Beach ESE Inclusion Teacher Liz Mann with a bouquet of flowers and told her she was being named the Santa Rosa County School District Teacher of the Year.
But it was only when Mann stepped out in the hallway that the honor seemed to truly come into focus for the 15-year teacher. Students and teachers lined the walls and continued to stream out of classrooms.
They chanted her name. Hugs lasted a little longer. Tears started to come out a little quicker.
And in the end, it was Mann who seemed to put things in the best perspective.
"If we start by treating everybody with kindness and creating a family-like environment, that changes the way we teach," Mann said. "It also changes the way we think and the way we treat people.
"It's not about me. It's about this place we're at and what we can do."
Mann will represent the district at the state teacher's convention in Orlando in July, and is also the district’s nominee for Florida Teacher of the Year. Mann works with special needs students at Oriole Beach, with a focus on kindergarten, first grade and second grade.
"She's probably the most loving, caring individual I've ever been around," Oriole Beach Elementary Principal Josh McGrew said. "She really has a heart for helping children, and it's not just here. She spends time volunteering in the community and makes an impact there as well ... there's nothing about her that's not just extraordinary."
It was easy to see Mann's impact at Oriole Beach on Wednesday — the evidence was in that hallway, as teacher after teacher and student after student lined up to congratulate her.
"(Mann) is an unbelievable lady, a servant leader that is passionate about taking care of children," Wyrosdick said. "She has a heart for children and a love for them in the best possible way."