PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Florida’s teacher of the year is back home in Bay County. Northside Elementary Media Specialist Adrianna Swearingen received the state’s top honor last week in Orlando.

Swearingen says she’s hoping to focus more attention on the panhandle’s exceptional teachers. Adrianna Swearingen went from being a Bay District school student to the 2024 Florida Teacher of the Year.

Swearingen has only been an educator for seven years, facilitating Northside Elementary’s student-run morning broadcasts and advancing the accelerated reading program.

She graduated from Rutherford high school and then received her bachelor’s in the elementary education program from FSU Panama City.

“I am very excited to highlight the panhandle and not be overlooked. You know, we have great teachers here and it’s exciting to be able to show that and maybe get some teachers who want to come join us and teach in Bay County,” said Swearingen.

Swearingen was named Bay district’s teacher of the year in January and then Florida’s Teacher of the Year Thursday evening. She’ll be leaving the classroom for the next year, to represent the state as a Christa McAuliffe Ambassador.

“My message for not only the teachers here in my county, but the entire state of Florida is to know that you are enough, and you matter. And we are doing amazing things in education. We are game changers. And just to ignite that passion and fire within and let’s have the best school year yet,” said Swearingen.

When you consider that Florida has 185,000 teachers, Swearingen’s accomplishment is even more impressive.

“We are so proud of you. And since she started her teaching here and has remained here and is now going to be a representative for the state, the entire state of Florida. We have to let her leave us for a year so that she can represent the state of Florida as the teacher of the year. And don’t you think she’s going to do a great job,” said Bay District School’s Deputy Superintendent Denise Kelley.

Swearingen says she hopes her first stop will be the state capital in Tallahassee.