ELC of North Florida Announces 2019 Preschool Teacher of the Year


Contact: Joan Whitson, Early Learning Literacy Coordinator, 

Early Learning Coalition of North Florida, Inc. 

Email: [email protected]  

Phone: 904-342-2267



The Early Learning Coalition of North Florida’s representatives stand with 2019 Preschool Teacher of the Year winner Teresa Forbes at the Early Educators Conference Saturday, January 18, 2020. Left to Right: Aubrie Simpson, Fostering Connections St. Johns; Teresa Forbes, Brighton Day Academy, St. Augustine; Tony Boloutchi, Kaplan Early Learning Co., and Joan Whitson, Early Learning Coalition of North Florida.

Mascot Elsie and representatives from the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida surprises 2019 Preschool Teacher of the Year Teresa Forbes, Brighton Day Academy, St. Augustine (left of mascot) with prizes last December. She was officially honored at the Early Educators Conference Saturday January 18, 2020.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla., January 28, 2020 –  Whether exceptional teachers are born or made is not the question. What matters is that by the time they make it into the classroom, they are filled with the necessary passion, drive, education and genuine love of teaching children that students need to succeed.

This critical need for exceptional teachers is why the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida (ELC) is proud to present its winner of the fifth annual Preschool Teacher of the Year Award to Teresa Forbes. Forbes is a VPK teacher at Brighton Day Academy in St. Augustine, Fla. 

The six-countywide preschool teacher recognition is to acknowledge the creativity and hard work of those who teach children at the most fundamental time in their lives. 

“These are the kind of teachers that children will remember for the rest of their lives,” said Dawn Bell, ELC CEO. Bell is the leader of the 21-year-old nonprofit organization and the North Florida organization works with their partner, Episcopal Children’s Services to assure providers have coaches, funds and often, volunteers for their learning environments.  

Forbes was honored by a surprise prize team in December with balloons and flowers. She was also recognized at the ELC of North Florida’s Early Educators Conference held on January 18, 2020 at the Thrasher-Horne Center in Orange Park. Forbes was awarded a $500 cash prize from Kaplan Early Learning, Inc., the 2019 Teacher of the Year Sponsor as well as a plaque in her honor. 

With a strong nomination from her peers, Forbes stood out among educators. 

“When I hear ‘above and beyond the call of duty’ I think of Teresa,” said Donald Sutton, owner of Crowned Heart Preschools [Brighton Day Academy]. “Teresa not only teaches all of the basic core education curriculum, she does it in a fun, loving and nurturing environment. Her students leave her room prepared for elementary school and life well beyond. Her students learn a love of reading, which will help them throughout their academic career and last a lifetime.”

“In addition, Teresa strongly models awesome social skills. Her students learn about respecting others, and sharing and communicating their feelings verbally. Teresa is always organized and ever-flexible with a teachable moment when they arise. She’s the first to come in early, stay late or volunteer to help on a Saturday.”

“Teresa has told me many times that this is her calling and what God put her on the earth to do. I couldn’t agree more,” Sutton said. 

“Teaching is a special calling, and ELC is excited to be able to recognize preschool teachers who represent the best in the six counties we serve,” Bell said. “There’s no better job than guiding children down a path of success. Great teachers like Teresa have an incredible impact on our future.” 

For more information about the Early Learning Coalition of North Florida and its programs and services, please visit, www.elcnorthflorida.org or call 904-342-2267.


Early Learning Coalition of North Florida