Polk Co. teacher named Florida Teacher of the Year

Christie Bassett teaches at Highlands Grove Elementary School

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ORLANDO, Fla. - Christie Bassett, an art teacher in Polk County, was named Florida's Teacher of the Year at a ceremony in Orlando Thursday night.

Bassett, who teaches at Highland Groves Elementary School in Lakeland, will serve as the Christa McAuliffe Ambassador for Education for the next year. She will travel to events across the state to motivate and inspire Florida's students and teachers.

Bassett was given $10,000 in prizes for winning the award, including $5,000 for herself, $1,000 for her school, a $1,000 Macy's wardrobe and an all-expenses paid trip to New York to see the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The runners-up, including Jill Espinosa, of Flagler County, and Lyndsey Matheny, of Indian River County, also received a $5,000 check.

An Orange County teacher was also honored at Thursday night's event. Kristen Iannuzzi, who was last year's Teacher of the Year, was given the first ever Magic of Teaching award. The new award honors Iannuzzi as a teacher with "a unique ability to create positive change in the community."

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