SEBRING - Cracker Trail Elementary's Jeannie Inagawa is one of three finalists for state assistant principal of the year honors.
Gov. Rick Scott recently announced the Department of Education's finalists for the Principal Achievement Award for Outstanding Leadership and the Outstanding Assistant Principal Achievement Award.
Inagawa told Highlands Today that she is very excited.
"We have so many great administrators in our district and across our state; it's such a phenomenal honor," she said.
Inagawa was notified about a month ago that she was named Highlands County's Assistant Principal of the Year.
State Education Commissioner Pam Stewart notified Inagawa on Dec. 19 that she was a finalist at the state level.
"It was great to hear it from her in person, at least over the phone," Inagawa said.
Inagawa is in her third year at Cracker Trail Elementary as the school's assistant principal.
She loves teaching and working close to the classroom with the teachers, Inagawa said.
"I love my job. It's not just a job. I enjoy going to work every day and being in the classrooms and interacting with the teachers and the children," she said. "I think one of the biggest things that I have done is just helping teachers become better teachers."
Evidence of gains at the school can be found in its accountability grade.
In a tough round of school accountability grades, when many school grades were lower, Cracker Trail Elementary improved from a "C" grade for the 2011-12 school year to an "A" grade in the 2012-13 school year. The elementary and middle school grades were released in July.
Previously Inagawa taught at Sun 'N Lake Elementary School and in Hillsborough County.
Statewide winners will be announced in February at the annual Commissioner's Summit for Principals and will be awarded a cash prize of $5,000 for the top principal and $2,500 for the top assistant principal.
The principal finalists are: Eric Lundman, East River High School, Orange County; Barbara Shirley, Alta Vista Elementary School, Sarasota County and Brian Kingsley, Gulfstream Middle School, Broward County.
Along with Inagawa, the other assistant principal finalists are: Brooke Loyed, Patronis Elementary School, Bay County and Jo-Anne Misiewicz-Selter, Flamingo Elementary School, Broward County.
Superintendents selected nominees from each district which were then submitted to the Department of Education for review by a diverse selection committee comprised of former program winners, representatives from leadership and parent organizations and the current Florid Teacher of the year. The committee recommend finalists to the education commissioner.