SARASOTA, Fla. (March 30, 2015) – Ed Hashey, Wilkinson Elementary School teacher and University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee (USFSM) alumnus, has been named Sarasota County’s 2015-2016 Teacher of the Year. Finalists included Christi McDowell-Cameron of Brookside Middle School and Russell Finger of Suncoast Polytechnical High School.
Before teaching, Hashey’s career paths spanned the mechanical engineering field, service in the Navy’s Nuclear Power program and graphic design with a specialization in new-media journalism. Each successful career path fostered the skills that would shape his teaching career: from civic duty to understanding and communicating with one’s audience.
For Hashey, his defining moment came on September 11, 2001, when he witnessed the terror attack firsthand. “I witnessed many situations where parents did not come home that day,” he said. “I was very reflective and felt a strong need to start giving back.” After his wife gave him a pamphlet on USFSM’s Master of Arts in Teaching K-6 program, he knew that he had found his next step.
While at USFSM, Hashey applied his studies to internships and hands-on experience in local classrooms. His coursework enabled him to teach two elementary school classes and participate in collaborative conferences set up by his cohort mentor, Dr. Stephen Rushton. Hashey knew he had found his passion when ESOL coordinator Alicia Whitaker connected him with an at-risk boy who was failing school. “It was a win-win for both of us,” he said, recalling his daily routine of reading with the boy to build his confidence. “This inspired me with the purpose I was after: to help at-risk children in need.”
Hashey was hired at Wakeland Elementary immediately after graduation in May 2008. During the six years he taught there, the number of at-risk students gradually decreased as the school transitioned into an IB school. Last year, he saw an opening at Wilkinson Elementary as an opportunity to help a greater number of at-risk children. There, he currently engages at-risk fifth-grade students with a curriculum he designs to fit their individual needs. “Getting a new class roster each fall is like winning a big prize. I love to identify their passions and tailor my lessons around what they like,” he said. “That is my fuel and most rewarding aspect: knowing a child, and then designing curriculum that aligns with benchmarks but is also specifically tailored for them to realize they are intelligent and can succeed.”
Every year, Sarasota County selects three finalists for the Teacher of the Year honor and reveals the recipient at an award luncheon. On Tuesday, March 24, Superintendent Laurie White officially named Hashey the 2015-2016 Sarasota County Teacher of the Year. With the honor comes a cash prize of $3,500. All finalists will also receive instructional technology advancements for their classrooms worth $10,000.
“It humbles me and makes me reflect. I sincerely feel any of those teachers deserved to be up there instead of me. It means that I am being recognized for a very noble cause—that is to teach children,” Hashey said when asked what the award meant to him. “I said it at the award luncheon, and I will say in writing: ‘I am among giants in this profession!’”
About USF Sarasota-Manatee (USFSM)
USF Sarasota-Manatee is a regional campus of the University of South Florida system, offering the prestige of a nationally ranked research university with the convenience of a hometown location, including classes in Manatee County, in North Port and online. Separately accredited, USFSM is ideal for those interested in pursuing a baccalaureate or master’s degree, professional certification, or continuing education credit in a small, personal setting with distinguished faculty and a dynamic curriculum of over 40 academic programs. Website: www.usfsm.edu