BAY COUNTY, Fla. — Bay District Schools first ever “Rookie Teacher of the Year” belongs to Emily Partington.

She teaches Spanish for all grades at Bay High school, and since being nominated has been crossing her fingers to be picked.

She said, “Ever since I heard that the rookie of the year thing was actually a thing I was like finally I have a chance, cause I didn’t think you know a second year teach like me would get an opportunity like this to be recognized so like I’m very grateful for this moment.”

Her superiors nominated her for this award because even in her short time as a BDS teacher, she’s jumped in with both feet.

Principal Billy May said she stands out because, “She does everything. She does everything. You know she came to us but we actually sweetened the pot to catch her from other schools because she said that she was a basketball person and a softball person so we made sure that we got her involved early on upfront with those particular organizations and then we she got here she took on various clubs the Russian Club, and the Pep Club. So she’s just a dynamo and anything that we need, we come to Emily and we get it done.”

District leaders say they wanted to recognize young talent amidst the challenges of COVID and online learning.

Executive Director of the Bay Education Foundation Melissa Pinero said, “This is an award that has been talked about for a few years and we believed that this year was the key year to bring it forward we have teacher here that are three years or less in the teaching profession here in Bay District Schools.”

Partington knew what it was like learning online, graduating from Florida State in her living room.

Good time or bad, Partington made it her mission to provide students with a wonderful high school experience.

Bay District Schools also named their “Teacher of the Year” and “Support Employee of the Year” award today too.

Gale Cassady, 1st grade teacher at Tommy Smith Elementary won “Teacher of the Year.” She has been working there for 9 years, but been a teacher for nearly 40 years.

Her colleagues had nothing but wonderful things to say about her, adding that no one is more deserving of this honor.

Cassady was humbled and said that teaching is more than just a career. It’s who she is.

She said, “Seeing that light come on, that’s always been my heart and my husband asked me he said when are you going to retire and get another job and I said this is my heart this is all I know how to do this is all I’ve ever done my entire life… and there’s no way I could every walk away from this.”

She added that she thinks she’s a successful teacher because she tries her best to really understand her students and not just teach.

“Support Employee of the Year” was presented to Greg Lyon at Hiland Park Elementary School.

He has taught at the school for about 3 years, and said there’s always something to learn, and sometimes that means going home and diving into topics that his students are interested in.

His favorite memories in the classroom are when the students get a chance to showcase their creativity.

Lyon said, “Mrs. Anderson class dressed up as scientists once and they made there own little lab coats and I just the imagination that they have to make their lab coat and to make it the way they want to those are the things that give me the biggest thrill and excitement to come in doing that stuff cause I love to see their imagination.”

Principle Ilia Faircloth said Greg was the perfect candidate for the award because when he sees a need in the school he fills it, and that is something really valuable in the school system.