An English Language Arts and a Physical Education teacher receive top honors from The Florida Literacy Association and SHAPE Florida, respectfully, reinforcing Orange County Public School’s dedicated and high-quality team objective. OCPS is celebrating Jennifer Buck and Brenda Christopher-Muench.
Jennifer Buck, Aloma Elementary School third-grade teacher, received the Florida Literacy Association’s 2021 FLA Teacher of the Year award. Buck believes “the key to educating a student is to respect a student.” She also teaches her students to respect one another and to have discussions using positive and respectful language.
Ms. Buck is a member of the school’s District Professional Learning Community, the Social Emotional Learning Leadership team and the third-grade tutoring program coordinator and teacher. Known for her “outside the box” lessons, Ms. Buck makes learning fun. From Escape Rooms to Gallery Walks to Text “Surgery,” she is constantly developing new lessons to keep her students engaged. Her students’ increased ELA proficiency on i-Ready and the Florida Standards Assessment serve as evidence of her effectiveness.
“Ms. Buck’s application reflected that she has a strong respect for students, families and colleagues. She works tirelessly to improve the literacy skills of her students and believes that promoting literacy ‘begins when the first bell rings and should continue when students are at home with their parents.’ Although there were several exceptional candidates for this award, it was clear to the selection committee that Ms. Buck set herself apart from the rest,” Kevin Smith, FLA Board chair and president, wrote about this honor.
SHAPE Florida named Brenda Christopher-Muench, physical education resource teacher, the Don Knitt Service Award recipient. This award recognizes a member who makes significant contributions to the organization.
Ms. Christopher-Muench finds professional development opportunities for physical education teachers and innovative programs and grants that benefit students. She develops and fosters relationships with corporations, such as the Orlando Magic and the United States Tennis Association, for equipment donations to promote physical fitness. These donations provide opportunities for students to experience new activities and to learn the value of daily exercise and a healthy lifestyle.
In the nomination packet, one teacher wrote, “She is a professional who cares about our community and makes everyone feel appreciated and supported.”
Due to COVID-19, both organizations cancelled their in-person conferences. Buck will receive her award via a FLA Virtual Professional Development session this month and Christopher-Muench will receive her award from Gale Strain, retired OPCS physical educator, later this month.