APS Selects Teacher of the Year

Ninth-Grade Teacher at Kenmore-Garfield Honored
Posted on 05/10/2019
Image of 2019 Teacher of the Year AwardeesAt its 28th annual Teacher of the Year Awards, Akron Public Schools (APS) selected its top teacher from a field of eight finalists. Four represent elementary schools in APS, and four come from secondary schools.

The selection process begins during the winter as the district begins awarding school-building-level teachers of the year. That list is then reduced to the top eight in the entire district. On this night, hundreds of teachers gathered at Guy's Party Center in Akron for dinner, recognition and the final announcement for Teacher of the Year.


This year, the district selected Joseph Nicolino, a ninth-grade social studies teacher at Kenmore-Garfield High School.

Joseph teaches social studies and is also the school's athletic director and resident educator mentor for his colleagues. He has his Master's Degree in Educational Leadership and is working toward an Ohio Principal's License.

"I use these leadership positions at Kenmore-Garfield to make a difference in the lives of our students," Nicolino said. "In doing this, I work to bring opportunities and funds to the school that are needed to get students interested and engaged in learning and extracurricular participation."

A teacher for five years, Nicolino has spent all five with Akron Public Schools and at Kenmore-Garfield.

In an essay he wrote as part of his application for division teacher of the year, Nicolino wrote, "I am always positive and work tirelessly to bring others to my same view of education. That is that school must be a place where students and community want to come to learn, not a place where students are forced to attend in order to graduate."

APS congratulates Joseph Nicolino, its 2019 Teacher of the Year.

The other finalists for APS Teacher of the Year:

Elementary Division Teachers of the Year Finalist
  • Katherine Mary Lovell - Barber CLC
  • Jessica Tozzi - I PROMISE School
  • Brianna Hayes - King CLC
  • Katelin Short - Sam Salem CLC 
Secondary Division Teachers of the Year Finalists 
  • Travey Bowman - Hyre CLC
  • Joseph Nicolino - Kenmore/Garfield High School
  • Steven Staszak - Litchfield CLC and International Baccalaureate School
  • Marissa Hughes - Miller South School for the Visual and Performing Arts 
Also recognized during the evening: 
  • Debra Gynn, Findley CLC, Outstanding Cooperating Teacher as named by the Ohio Association of Teacher Educators
  • Yontami Jones, a coach at Kenmore-Garfield and teacher at Innes CLC who was this year's recipient of the Clem Caraboolad Memorial Coach of the Year Award from the Akron Beacon Journal and the Touchdown Club of Greater Akron. 
Receiving the Shining Apple Award, chosen by APS seniors for being their most inspirational teacher, were: 
  • Travis McCown - Akron Early College High School
  • Stephanie Zende - Buchtel CLC
  • Daniel Velasco-Perez - East CLC
  • Denise Brannan-Prischak - Ellet High School
  • Sherry Hankinson - Firestone CLC
  • Kelsey Kent - Kenmore-Garfield High School
  • Benjamin Graber - National Inventors Hall of Fame STEM High School
  • Terrance Spragling - North High School 
The Marilyn Parks Achievement Award for teachers making a significant difference in the lives of their students was bestowed upon Michelle Jones, Ph.D., who is a literacy coach at Jennings CLC. The award also specifies that it be given to a life-long learner and one who stays connected to students even after they have moved on to other grade levels or even have graduated.

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