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King High School educator Dakeyan Chá Dré Graham wins 2020 Florida Teacher of the Year.

Tampa Bay

Hillsborough educator wins 2020 Florida Teacher of the Year

Dakeyan Chá Dré Graham was chosen from nearly 180,000 teachers.

A local teacher is going home this week with an extra $20,000 in his wallet and the 2020 Florida Department of Education Teacher of the Year title.

Dakeyan Chá Dré Graham won the state’s top honor for public school teachers Thursday at the annual gala in Orlando. Graham teaches music at C. Leon King High School in Tampa. 

Florida is nationally recognized for its top-notch education system and teachers the caliber of Dr. Graham have made that possible. As he begins his tenure as Teacher of the Year, I offer my heartiest congratulations and know he will represent Florida and the education profession well,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said.

Graham was chosen from more than 176,900 Florida public school teachers.

“Dr. Graham personifies the ideals of the education profession and it is my honor to name him as Florida’s top teacher,” Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said.

“A world class education lead by a high quality teacher is the catalyst for students realizing their full potential, and I commend Dr. Graham for his innate ability to consistently inspire and motivate his students toward excellence. I look forward to working with him during the coming year.” 

Graham holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Music Education from the University of Florida, a Master’s in Educational Leadership from Concordia University and a PhD in Music Education from the University of South Florida. He serves as the Director of Instrumental Studies at his alma mater, C. Leon King High School, where he has been an educator for 10 years. 

Throughout his time with Hillsborough County Public Schools, his students have demonstrated determination and focus. Some have been selected to perform in the prestigious Carnegie Hall in New York City. Graham belongs to numerous professional organizations and works in his community to promote and infuse music education into Title I schools, those that serve a large number of low-income students. 

As the 2020 Florida Teacher of the Year, Graham will also serve for one year as the Christa McAuliffe Ambassador for Education, working to create greater public awareness of Florida’s exceptional teachers and the education profession.

He will have the opportunity to promote and celebrate the countless contributions of Florida’s teachers, provide professional learning opportunities to educators and recruit future teachers into the education profession. Graham also receives from the Florida Prepaid College Board an $8,000 2-Year Florida College scholarship to give to a student of his choice.

Four other finalists received a combined $15,000. Those teachers include Megan Crombie from Florida State University School in Leon County; Nicole Mosblech from Vero Beach High School in Indian River County; Leigh Ann Norris from Hamilton County Elementary School in Hamilton County; and Shane Swezey from Oak Park School in Sarasota County. 

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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