Press Release for Wednesday, May 14, 2003

Longtime Teachers Win Prior Awards




(904) 620-2140

Four Jacksonville career teachers will each receive $12,000 in recognition of their dedication to area students and the teaching profession.

Donna Hamm, Jacksonville Country Day School; Marilyn Olin, Paxon School for Advanced Studies; Elizabeth Renfroe, Stanton College Preparatory School; and Jan Tipton, Alimacani Elementary School, will receive Gladys Prior Awards for Career Teaching Excellence, which were announced this week.

This is the sixth year the awards have been presented, thanks to the generosity of Jacksonville native Gilchrist Berg, founder and president of Water Street Capital, an investment firm based in Jacksonville. Berg established the awards, which are administered by the University of North Florida, to honor Gladys Prior, his fourth-grade teacher at Ortega Elementary School. Berg said Prior saw his potential and encouraged him to succeed.

Donna Hamm


Hamm has taught fifth grade at Jacksonville Country Day School for 15 years. Previously, she taught at schools in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Kentucky, adding up to 30 years of teaching experience. Hamm was the first student to integrate her middle school in Louisville, Ky. After arriving at Jacksonville Country Day School, she started a monthlong study of black history, using it to teach appreciation and respect for everyone. She received her bachelor’s degree from Spalding University and her master’s from Indiana University.

Marilyn Olin

Olin has spent more than 30 years teaching Jacksonville children, first at Terry Parker High School for 24 years and then Paxon School for Advanced Studies for seven years. She also taught for nine years in Rochester, N.Y. At Paxon, Olin teaches International Baccalaureate English, Theory of Knowledge, and Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition. She was the 1985 Florida Speech Teacher of the Year; a three-time winner of the Teacher of the Year Award at Terry Parker High; the 2000 winner of the Paxon Teacher of the Year Award; and the 2000 Duval County Teacher of the Year. Olin received her bachelor’s from Nazareth College of Rochester in New York and her master’s at State University of New York at Brockport.

Elizabeth Renfroe

Renfroe has spent the last 17 years teaching English at Stanton College Preparatory School. She also spent one year teaching at Englewood Senior High. Renfroe received her bachelor’s from University of the South Sewanee and her law degree from Duke University. She then returned to school to earn a master’s in literature from the University of North Florida. At Stanton, she teaches Advanced Placement English and Composition to International Baccalaureate students. Renfroe also has conducted spring break trips for students to Europe for the last several years.

Jan Tipton

Jacksonville native Tipton has spent more than 30 years encouraging area elementary school students to keep physically fit by using current research in her physical education programs. She was recognized as Teacher of the Year at Stonewall Jackson (1980), Fort Caroline (1986) and Alimacani Elementary School (1991). Her physical education programs also have been recognized by several Florida associations. She has been instrumental in fostering healthy programs that involve faculty and families at Alimacani. Tipton received her bachelor’s degree from Jacksonville University and her master’s from the University of North Florida.

- UNF -