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Teacher of the Year finalist: Joshua Diaz

Updated: Jan 22, 2019

Jan. 14, 2019 - Joshua Diaz was teaching his fifth-grade students at Hogan-Spring Glen Elementary School when he noticed his principal in the doorway.

Could she meet him in the classroom next door to discuss something? Diaz was right in middle of an important lesson and was hesitant to stop.

The fifth-grade teacher tried to request continuing his lesson again, but as his principal insisted it was important, he reluctantly left and walked right into a burst of congratulations from his peers, students and administration announcing that he was a finalist for 2019 Florida Blue Duval County Teacher of the Year.

Diaz is a passionate educator who found his calling through Teach for America. Before then, he had dreamed of doing analytics with the FBI. But after teaching his first class, Diaz realized his heart was in the classroom with his students.

"Seeing them grow is most important to me," said Diaz. "I do this job because I'm passionate about it. I love my job!"

His lessons reflect his passion. His conversational teaching style keeps his students engaged in the classroom. He makes sure to bring in examples from movies or real-life situations they can relate to, like explaining the movement of erosion from a scene in Disney's Mulan.

His students, like fifth-graders Jeanett and Jazmin, were enthusiastic to share their favorite part of Mr. Diaz's science class -- a game called fluency.

The game involves students standing up and being put under a time limit to answer questions; if you get a question wrong, your team has to sit down.

Throughout the fun, games, science and math, Diaz says the biggest lesson he wants his students to learn is to have integrity and always keep moving.

He wants to make sure they "always hold themselves accountable for what they do, even when I'm not there to tell them to."

Editor's Note: Joshua Diaz is one of five finalists for the 2019 Florida Blue Duval County Teacher of the Year. The winner will be announced at the Eddy Awards on Feb. 15. Leading up to the announcement, we will be doing a feature on each of the finalist every week. Read about the other finalists here.


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