By Jessica Creagan
VERO BEACH -- The high quality of Indian River County teachers is once again getting noticed at the state level.
Indian River County's 2015 Teacher of the Year Lyndsey Matheny, a science, technology, engineering and math teacher for second and third graders at Citrus Elementary in Vero Beach, was picked as one of five finalists in Florida's 2015 Teacher of the Year competition.
The final winner won't be named until July 10, but before then, Mrs. Matheny will travel to Tallahassee to be interviewed by representatives of the Florida Department of Education and Education Commissioner Pam Stewart.
"I was completely caught off-guard when they told me," said Mrs. Matheny, who thought she was attending a charity fundraiser pep rally when the announcement was given.
"I was overjoyed, surprised, overwhelmed and really humbled. It really is very humbling to be chosen out of all of the educators in Florida. It's a great honor," Mrs. Matheny said.
"Mrs. Matheny is a top notch teacher and team player. It is no surprise that she is a state finalist," said Jon Teske, Citrus Elementary School principal, in a press release.
Indian River County Superintendent of Schools Fran Adams said Mrs. Matheny's recognition is wonderful.
"It is significant for us as a school district to have a finalist in the state teacher of the year competition. Having such an affirmation is something to be proud of and we celebrate Mrs. Matheny's selection for this great honor," Mrs. Adams said in a press release.
In recent memory the Indian River County School District has had three Florida Teachers of the Year and a number of finalists in the state competition, the superintendent said.
"We are extremely proud," Mrs. Adams said.
During a school day, Mrs. Matheny splits time between a second-grade and a third-grade classroom, giving STEM instruction.
While no one at the state level has given an explanation for why she was chosen as a finalist, Mrs. Matheny said it may have something to do with her teaching methods.
"My lessons are more student-led than teacher-talk," Mrs. Matheny said.
At the beginning of the class, she might provide students with an overview of the day's events and curriculum, but then the students split up into cooperative groups and learn and research the material independently within their groups, Mrs. Matheny said.
"After that, I will come over to them and answer questions they may have, sometimes by asking questions of my own that help them figure out the answer they were looking for," she said.
"I've really always done it this way. The planning takes a little more effort, but during the lesson, it's the student's energy that gets used up, not mine," she said with a chuckle.
This is Mrs. Matheny's second year teaching at Citrus Elementary School. She previously taught in the St. Lucie County School District for four years.
For more news or information from the Indian River County School District, visit www.indianriverschools.org.