In Hernando County there are many wonderful teachers. Every year a teacher is chosen from each school as that school’s teacher of the year. In addition to these teachers, School-Related Employees are chosen for the School-Related Employees of the year. The Hernando Sun is excited to feature these world changers in upcoming weeks.
At last year’s Teacher of the Year reception, Dr. Dakeyan Cha Dre Graham, 2020 Florida Teacher of the Year, told the educators in the room, “While we are positively impacting the next generation of world changers, every single person in this room is a world changer.”
With the hardships of 2020, those words are certainly truer than ever. The exceptional teachers who have risen to the top amidst a year of chaos and change are certainly deserving of celebration.
Superintendent John Stratton remarks, “For most of us, having others take notice of and appreciate our work is terrific. When it comes from peers and colleagues, it is especially meaningful. Being chosen as a Teacher of the Year or as a School-Related Employee of the Year is special and, it should always be. To be presented here over the next several weeks are 26 educators and 30 staff members who work hard to improve the learning experience for students and contribute to strengthening outcomes.
Because our staff prefers to keep the focus on the students and rarely seeks the spotlight, I am grateful to The Hernando Sun for including them in this feature.”
Once selected by nominating committees at their individual schools, the teachers go through a multistep selection process in competition for the district title. The Hernando County Education Foundation Teacher of the Year (TOY) selection committee is made up of retired educators, board members and community members.
The Hernando County Education Foundation announced Feb. 1 that Mason Lewis is the 2021 District Teacher of the Year. Lewis teaches Digital Information Technology at D.S. Parrott Middle School and has been with Hernando Schools since 2006.
The first world changer we will meet is Mason Lewis.
What inspired you to become a teacher?
I’m a third generation teacher on both sides of my family; in fact my father and both grandfathers were CTE teachers. There is not a profession that you can impact the lives of so many people year after year.
Where are you from and what is your educational background/experience?
I was born and raised in Floral City, Florida. I attended the University of Central Florida and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education. I later earned a Master’s in Educational Technology from Northwestern State University. After one year teaching 3rd grade at Inverness Primary, I’ve taught at DS Parrott for the last 15 years. While at Parrott I taught 7th and 8th-grade science before moving to my current position as a CTE Instructor.
What is your most memorable moment as a teacher?
Hernando High has this great tradition of having the senior class select honored guests from the local elementary and middle schools. One teacher is selected to stand on the stage and shake the hands of every graduating senior. I was selected by the HHS Graduating class of 2011, which was my first group of students to reach their senior year.
What is a challenge that you’ve faced as a teacher and how did you solve it?
Developing and leading Parrott’s ICT Program. We offer 10 Digital Certificates in subjects like Gaming, Web Design, and Cybersecurity and an Industry Certification in Social Media Strategist. It is great showing the entire county how awesome the students at Parrott are and that they are just as capable as students at any other school in the county.