Three Keys Gate Charter teachers earn teaching excellence awards

Executives from the Clarion Council and the Florida Charter School Alliance announced recently the winners of the New American Hero initiative, a teacher recognition program designed to highlight the success of high performing charter schools and reward those teachers who have made a significant investment in their students’ lives.

The winners are teachers from participating charter schools in Florida, Georgia and Louisiana who have been nominated by fellow teachers, administrators and parents within the school. Specific examples of unique teaching styles and/or student- centered accomplishments of each nominee were considered and evaluated by a team of administrators. Each of the 28 winners earned $1,000 and will be eligible to win the annual New American Hero of the Year $5,000 grand prize.

Keys Gate Charter School first grade teacher Carey Smith, and grade 3-7 teacher Kathleen Ebersole have been selected as 2012 New American Hero Award recipients.

Keys Gate Charter High School social studies teacher Diana Bivona has been selected as its 2012 New American Hero Award recipient.

“Carey, Kathleen, and Diana are compassionate, respectful educators who take their students on an adventure each time they enter the classroom,” said David McKnight, principal of Keys Gate Charter School and Keys Gate Charter High School. “We are proud to recognize each of them for their professionalism and we congratulate them on winning this award.”

Charter schools are tuition-free public schools that offer a choice for communities, parents, students and professionals that foster educational excellence in America. Parents of nearly two million students nationwide choose to send their children to charter schools every day and that number continues to grow rapidly because of charter schools’ customerfocused approach to public education that ensures tailored programs meet each child’s needs.

The success of charter schools is driven by the wave of highly ambitious and talented professionals who choose to dedicate their careers to providing instruction in an innovative environment that is free from the constraints that bind traditional public educators.

“I commend all teachers who are committed to going the extra mile and act as role models by putting students first,” said David Alba, executive director of the Clarion Council. “The goal of New American Hero is to encourage a performance- driven culture and provide excellent and innovative educational experiences for all students.”

The New American Hero program is in its first year of implementation and currently is in 30 charter schools in three states. It is supported in its entirety by gifts from individuals, businesses and foundations.

To learn more about the New American Hero program, how you can participate or to see a complete list of winners visit online at

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