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2025 Teacher of the Year Finalists

Two high school teachers and one middle school teacher are starting off 2024 right. A panel of six independent judges named three deserving individuals as finalists for the 2025 Lake County Schools Teacher of the Year.

The three finalists were notified today by Superintendent Diane Kornegay, School Board members, and a caravan of representatives from the district, the Education Foundation of Lake County and various sponsors including Jenkins Auto Group. “We are fortunate to have outstanding teachers in Lake County, and today it was an honor to recognize a few of our very best for their professionalism and dedication to student achievement,” said Superintendent Diane Kornegay. 

The entourage visited Brittany Rudolph-Montgomery, an 8th grade ELA teacher at Carver Middle; Cindy Bellamy, a 9th-12th grade Agriculture teacher at Mount Dora High; and Karen Kelly, a mathematics teacher at Tavares High to honor each along with their respective principals, school staff and students. 

Rudolph-Montgomery has been a teacher at Carver Middle since 2019 and has been teaching for the last six years. In addition to her work in the classroom, Rudolph-Montgomery has volunteered numerous hours with organizations like Miss Elite Lake County, Ms. Florida Pure International, Mrs. Lake County, and several other nonprofits. “Witnessing my scholars demonstrate dedication and hardwork, while also exceeding and excelling, inspires me to keep investing in their lives,” wrote Rudolph-Montgomery in her application. “My goal is not only to make sure they thrive through middle school but, high school, and beyond.”

Bellamy has been a teacher at Mount Dora High since 2009. She is currently the 9th-12th grade agriculture teacher and has taught Biology, Earth/Space, Science and Environmental Science. Bellamy has won numerous awards working with the Future Farmers of America (FFA) and the Lake County Fair. “I especially become inspired by those students who share their daily or post-grad happenings remembering that one day they were not that confident child, perhaps the student last to speak in class,” stated Bellamy in her application. “Now, they are representing employers with pride and self-reliance, describing their new jobs, college classes, their successful history class speech, even finishing first in state with the FFA judging contest’s oral reasons.”

Kelly has been working in education for 21 years. Fifteen of those have been at Tavares High School. Kelly also acts as the Math Department Chair, FCA Sponsor and Junior class sponsor. “Cultivating change from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset, change from “I’m not good at math” to “I want more math,” is what inspires me,” wrote Kelly in her application. “All students deserve to be taught with high expectations and with the same rigor as students who are talented in math.”

At a celebration on February 1st, one of the three finalists will be named Lake’s newest Teacher of the Year and will drive away with the grand prize, a 2024 Honda Civic from Jenkins Auto Group. Ernie Morris Enterprises and Hon will be providing a new chair for every nominee as well as a $20,000 classroom makeover for the winner. The Lake winner will go on to compete at the state level for the title of Florida Teacher of the Year.