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Teacher of the Year Finalist: Nakiesha Tinsley

Updated: Jan 22, 2019

Jan. 7, 2019 - "That was the best day ever," said Nakiesha Tinsley as she reflected on the day it was revealed she was a Teacher of the Year finalist.

The health and physical education teacher at Matthew Gilbert Middle School never dreamed she would receive this honor. Tinsley’s journey in becoming an educator began as a middle school student in Augusta, Ga. Her gym teacher, Ms. Jackson, sparked her passion to becoming a physical education teacher.

"She was older, but she was so active. Everybody loved her," said Tinsley.

Tinsley said she faced one obstacle when deciding to be an educator -- the stigma that came with teaching physical education. Her cousin, Crystal, urged her to follow her passion and pursue education despite criticism from her college classmates for her desire to teach gym.

After receiving her college degree, Tinsley found herself at Matthew Gilbert Middle School, where she still teaches 23 years later.

"I have kids whose parents come for open house asking if I was the one who taught them," said Tinsley. "I've taught two generations here. They’re all my babies.”

For more than two decades, she has always shared the same message with her students: you are the total package.

Tinsley describes Matthew Gilbert as a competitive, athletic school that draws student-athletes across the district. But she says she makes sure her students understand they are academically gifted as well as athletically gifted.

Editor's Note: Nakiesha Tinsley 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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