The Davis Award for Excellence in Teaching was given to Kate Wallis ’01 for Upper School and Tracy Jester for Middle School at the end-of-year faculty celebration luncheon on May 30.
Tracy Jester is a Physical Education instructor and the Associate Director of Honor Education. She has worked at Episcopal since 2002. In addition to teaching, she has also coached several teams, including Volleyball and Softball. She won the John Ryan Excellence in Coaching Award in 2010-2011. In recent years she has presented twice at the Florida Council for Independent Schools (FCIS) and joined multiple learner-centered book and action research groups. She recently ran two school-wide Health, Safety, and Well-Being activities, helps to lead the Honor Council, and earned her CPR instructor certification so that CPR certification could be added to the Physical Education curriculum. Her nominations described her as the “the ultimate colleague and collaborator” and as a “committed educator who thinks about the well-being of her students and who is constantly searching for ways to improve their educational experience through her discipline.”
Kate Wallis ’01 returned to campus to teach in the English Department in 2011. She serves as a mentor to other faculty and works on a variety of committees on campus, consistently building upon her professional knowledge and ability to serve her students. Her commitment to and relationships with her students was a theme throughout the letters nominating her, which noted students’ eagerness “to talk with her long after class is done,” as well as her ability to guide them and help them develop as thinkers and writers.” Another colleague wrote, “If she isn’t the essence of what we hope ESJ graduates will be, we need to go back to the drawing board. Quietly, modestly, with excellence in all that she undertakes, she gives so much of herself to her students and her colleagues, and they all emerge better for their time with her.”
Established in 1992, the Davis Awards for Excellence in Teaching are presented each year to selected Episcopal School of Jacksonville teachers who personify quality in their teaching and in their influence on student learning; who consistently and unselfishly go above and beyond normal expectations of time, energy and devotion in working with students; who demonstrate the rare ability to motivate students to higher and higher levels of achievement; and who have consistently made use of opportunities for continuing education to improve themselves professionally. This award is intended to inspire all Episcopal teachers to pursue uncompromising excellence and caring in the classroom.