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Meet our Florida 2014 Teacher of the Year

Dorina Sackman

Dorina Sackman
Westridge Middle School,
Orange County

Dorina Sackman is an eighth grade ESOL Language Arts teacher at Westridge Middle School in Orange County. Ms. Sackman has been teaching ESOL in Florida for the past 14 years, and has worn many hats to ensure her students from all over the world view her classroom as a safe haven. She treats her classroom as a stage for these children to celebrate their diverse backgrounds while still learning English. Her proficiency in five languages helps her to communicate with parents to help facilitate involvement in their child’s education.

Ms. Sackman faces the constant struggle of introducing students to concepts that are not only new, but in a different language. Ms. Sackman constantly looks for new and creative ways to intertwine a student’s native culture and language into an English language learning experience. She often creates lesson plans where students can explain their culture to other students, all while learning key benchmarks such as chronological order, cause and effect, and text features.

Ms. Sackman has used the Common Core Standard to add depth to her lesson plans and often collaborates with other ESOL classrooms to help show students how each lesson relates outside the Language Arts subject. Collaborating with different subjects in her ESOL classroom allows her students to use a higher level of thinking and to communicate better to grasp concepts and apply classroom learning to the outside world.

Outside of the classroom, Ms. Sackman aims to show students the “human” side of teachers to help build trusted relationships for students during their fragile middle school years. She is involved in the SAC, PTA, and often lends her free time to chaperoning off-campus student activities, or accepting invitations from her student’s parents to cultural events.

“Ms. Sackman’s activities both inside and outside the classroom reflect her passion for teaching,” stated Superintendent Barbara Jenkins. “She connects with her students by quickly earning their trust and respect by truly wanting to get to know them, who they are, and where they come from.”

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