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Student-Driven. Teacher-Fueled.

• Sara Clements

I’d like to say thank you. This time of year, many of us are feeling particularly thankful, but I know I speak for most Floridians when I say we’re thankful for teachers every single day. They do so much more than teach. Teachers are motivators, cheerleaders, mentors and the hardworking pit crew on every student’s path to success.

Please join me in thanking Florida’s teachers for the impacts they’ve made in each of our lives. Consider thanking an educator who helped or inspired you or your child along life’s road. Personally, I’d like to thank my mom, who inspired me to go into the field of education. As a kindergarten teacher, mentor, education coordinator for Head Start and associate professor in early childhood education, my mom has made a tremendous impact in the field of primary education in particular.

We are turning things around in Florida with the help of teachers. In fact, Florida has gone from the bottom to the top of national achievement rankings, and between 1992 and 2011, our fourth-grade students doubled the national increase in students scoring at the highest levels of reading proficiency. Graduation rates for all students have also improved – by a whopping 20% since 1998. We’re miles ahead of where we’ve been, and we have teachers like my mother to thank.

Think of a current or former teacher you’d like to thank. Who would it be, and what would you say? For more resources and ways to thank Florida’s teachers, visit

Education is Student-Driven, but it's Teacher-Fueled

About the author

Sara Clements

Sara is the Florida Regional Advocacy Director for the Foundation for Excellence in Education. Prior to joining ExcelinEd, Sara worked in the Florida public school system as an English/Language Arts and reading teacher, at a Title I middle school and later at a K-12 charter school. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Secondary English Education from the University of North Florida and a master’s degree in Education Policy from the Florida State University.