Shannon Clark, a fourth-grade language arts and social studies teacher at Eustis Heights Elementary, was named the 2022 Lake County Schools Teacher of the Year at a Jan. 28 celebration hosted by the Education Foundation of Lake County.

Earlier this month, Clark and two other nominees – Rikki Parisoe and Joshua Wintersdorf – were chosen as finalists. Their experience spans decades of teaching and family commitments to education. 

Clark teaches language arts and social studies to fourth-grade students at Eustis Heights Elementary. She also helped develop instructional materials that are currently used throughout the district. 

“The work isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth it because of my students,” she said. 

For Clark, teaching is more than the subject at hand.

“It’s being their cheerleader and motivator, a shoulder to cry on, or simply someone who will listen to them,” Clark said.  

“Being [Teacher of the Year] me the opportunity to give back what Lake County has given to me... It gives me a platform to continue to learn and grow as an educator, and also share the best practices I’ve learned because of LCS,” she said. 

As the winner of Lake County Teacher of the Year, Clark drives off with the grand prize, a 2021 Honda Accord from Jenkins Auto Group that she will be able to use for three years. She will also compete at the state level for Florida’s Teacher of the Year. Florida Teacher of the Year finalists will be announced in May, and the 2022 Florida Department of Education Teacher of the Year named in July.

Parisoe is a first-grade teacher at Fruitland Park Elementary School. Her dedication to education started at an early age by watching her parents. Parisoe’s mother also teaches at Fruitland Park Elementary. Her late father was a lifetime educator and assistant principal. 

“He taught me to lead by serving others, and that good leaders lead by lifting up those around them,” Parisoe said. 

Parisoe says she’s honored to be a finalist but wishes to honor her fellow teachers’ hard work this year with changes in learning styles due to the pandemic.

Algebra teacher Joshua Wintersdorf loves seeing the spark in his students’ eyes when they figure out a math problem. 

“Watching them grow into confident math students is an amazing feeling. If I can help them become better humans in the process, that is the icing on the cake,” Wintersdorf said.  

Wintersdorf teaches at Umatilla Middle School and has taught in the county for 11 years. He is active in the school’s athletic program, helping coach soccer, flag football and basketball. A Lake County native, Wintersdorf attended Lake County Schools himself. Wintersdorf was his school’s Rookie Teacher of the Year in 2014 and a Teacher of the Year nominee in 2017.

Every school in Lake County chose representatives for Teacher of the Year, Rookie Teacher of the Year and School-Related Employee of the Year. Teacher of the Year nominees include certified teachers with the county. Rookie Teacher of the Year nominees have been teaching for less than three years. School-Related Employees of the Year include school resource officers, cafeteria workers, custodians, teacher assistants and other school support staff.

Finalists for Rookie Teacher of the Year and School-Related Employee of the Year will be chosen in February, with winners selected during a March 11 ceremony. 

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners for their commitment to the education of our future leaders!