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Press Release for Tuesday, April 19, 2016

2016 Gladys Prior Awards for Career Teaching Honor Four Teachers

Media Contact: Joanna Norris, Director
Department of Public Relations
(904) 620-2102

Four Jacksonville teachers will be surprised in their classrooms with the 2016 Gladys Prior Awards for Career Teaching Excellence, which were established in 1998 by Gilchrist Berg, founder and president of Water Street Capital, to honor teachers who have had lifelong careers in teaching and inspiring students.

As of this year, 76 teachers will have been recognized with a Gladys Prior Award, created to honor Jacksonville teachers with an award named after Berg’s fourth-grade teacher, Gladys Prior, at Ortega Elementary. The University of North Florida College of Education and Human Services manages this gift and coordinates the award competition each year. Each of these career teachers will receive $15,000.

The 2016 winners are Susan Harper, Tiger Academy; Scott Sowell, Darnell Cookman Middle/High School; Judy Reppert, Martin J. Gottlieb Day School; and Mark McGiveron, Fletcher Middle School.

A career professional with over 30 years of experience, Susan Harper teaches kindergarten at Tiger Academy, a charter school in Duval County. She is the consummate teacher and mentor who demands high standards from her students, her colleagues and her students. According to Principal Charles McWhite, many regard Harper as the best teacher they have ever observed, and teachers make regular visits to her classroom to acquire ideas for their own classrooms. Students also love her. “Ms. Harper is a great example of a determined, intelligent and optimistic teacher,” said Nia Atcherson.

Scott Sowell is a science teacher at Darnell Cookman. He serves as a reader for advanced placement biology and environmental science exams for students across the country and is a member of Leadership Florida’s inaugural statewide class. Sowell’s heart, efforts and dedication are grounded in his classroom. Kaitlyn Rullo, a former student who is now a college student majoring in coastal environmental science, credits Sowell for changing her life. “I found a passion in the environment that I never expected, and it was all due to Dr. Sowell, as he would teach every day with such joy and contentment.”

Judy Reppert teaches middle school social studies and civics at Gottlieb Day School and has been a classroom teacher over the duration of four decades. She creates classrooms that make learning come alive and meaningful. Edith Horovitz-Morah Eta, vice principal, believes the measure of a great teacher is the number of former students who visit to share their life stories. “Students return year after year to visit and talk with her,” she said. Her students have also won numerous awards over the years and credit her for their accomplishments.

Every day an hour before school begins, a crowd of students arrive at the door of Mark McGiveron, a math teacher at Fletcher. McGiveron has led these students, who are members of the Fletcher Middle School Math Team, to success in a number of local, regional and state math competitions, earning the school a National Gold Level School Status with the MathCounts Foundation. McGivern also holds the record in Duval County Public Schools for the highest number of students who pass the end-of-course exam in geometry.

For more information about the awards, contact Dr. Kristine Webb, professor in UNF’s College of Education and Human Services, at (904) 620-1807 or at

UNF, a nationally ranked university located on an environmentally beautiful campus, offers students who are dedicated to enriching the lives of others the opportunity to build their own futures through a well-rounded education.