MCSD/Education Foundation of MC Recognize 2023/24 Teachers of the Year

November 10, 2023

The Martin County School District (MCSD) and Education Foundation of Martin County (EFMC) are proud to announce that Crystal Lake Elementary School's Joshua Perry has been named the District’s 2023-2024 Teacher of the Year.

The winner was announced during the Education Foundation of Martin County’s Teacher of the Year Awards Celebration on Friday, November 3, 2023, at the MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Event Center in Port St. Lucie. The event’s presenting sponsors were Audi Stuart, Infiniti Stuart, and Alfa Romeo Stuart.

Mr. Perry, an alumnus of Jensen Beach High School and Florida Gulf Coast University, has been an educator for six years at Crystal Lake Elementary. Throughout his career at the elementary school, Mr. Perry encourages students to develop strong literacy, numeracy, social and learning skills in every grade level. He uses formative data to continuously grow his skills as a teacher and to guide growth in his students. Within recent years, Mr. Perry took on the opportunity to teach Gifted students.

"Joshua Perry has become a favorite amongst students, parents and staff," Principal Brenda Watkins shared in her nomination letter. "He allows his students the freedom to select the format they feel comfortable with to demonstrate mastery. You will notice this when you walk into his classroom."

In addition to educating students in the classroom, Mr. Perry has enthusiastically gone above and beyond to provide students with numerous opportunities to partake in extracurricular activities. At Crystal Lake Elementary, Mr. Perry created a passion for theatre in all students. As someone who personally gained a positive experience from participating in sports and theatre as a student, he wanted to recreate that magic for the next generation. Mr. Perry jumped headfirst and started theatre productions for in-school and out-of-school performances, all of which have been adored by students, staff and families.

Mr. Perry has also made strides in school sports, both at Crystal Lake Elementary and Dr. David L. Anderson Middle School. At Crystal Lake Elementary, Mr. Perry is heavily involved in the Running Club and Track Team, where he led students to 2nd Place Overall at the Annual Russell Holloway Track & Field Day Competition. Mr. Perry is also an exceptional Girls' Basketball Coach at Dr. David L. Anderson Middle School. He is proud to have helped the team achieve the 2019 and 2020 District Championships.

When he's not involved in leading theatre productions or sports, Mr. Perry has served on various committees focused on student improvement. He served as the chairman of the Math School Improvement Committee, a member of the STEM School Improvement Team, and participated on the Student Advisory Council for three years. Mr. Perry has a passion for helping students achieve success and find their confidence. He considers the strengths and needs of his students when lesson planning and uses data-driven methods to nurture measurable growth.

“Joshua fosters an 'I can do' attitude in all students,” said Principal Watkins. He recognizes everyone has something to give and fosters that ability. He will do the same for Martin County School District.”

Superintendent Michael Maine was proud to see Mr. Perry recognized as the 2023-2024 Teacher of the Year.

“Mr. Perry’s unwavering dedication to nurturing young minds, fostering a passion for learning and innovative teaching methods are an inspiration to us all,” Superintendent Maine shared. “Mr. Perry demonstrates an incredible ability to take on challenges for the betterment of all students and embodies the spirit of excellence, creating a brighter future for the next generation. I am proud to have Mr. Perry represent the Martin County School District as the 2023-2024 Teacher of the Year.”

“The Education Foundation of Martin County, along with our many program sponsors, is proud to host the annual Teacher of the Year Awards Celebration,” said Karina Talalay, President of the EFMC. “It’s our favorite party of the year where we come together to recognize our inspiring teachers for all that they do for our community’s children. Congratulations to all this year’s exceptional nominees and winners. We look forward to following Mr. Perry as he represents Martin County in the running for Florida’s Teacher of the Year title.”

In addition to honoring the District’s 2023-2024 Teacher of the Year, winners were recognized in the Elementary, Middle and High School categories:

High School Teacher of the Year – sponsored by Keiser University
Kyle Gorton, South Fork High School, IB Math and Leadership Class Teacher

Ms. Gorton has been an educator at South Fork High School for five years. She holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Mathematics from the State University of New York at Potsdam and prides herself as a leader with strong organizational and prioritization skills with expertise in teaching math at all levels. Ms. Gorton is an esteemed educator in South Fork High School’s International Baccalaureate program. When she’s not educating her students to excel in and have a passion for mathematics, she is coaching Girls’ Cross Country and Track and leads the Student Government Association and Leadership. In her role as the Student Government Advisor, she assisted in achieving the title of the largest contributor to the Thanksgiving Basket Drive for four years and contributed thousands of dollars to local communities. Most recently, Ms. Gorton and her students championed a project to create a viable thrift store on campus, working towards a sustainable option to recycle South Fork spirit gear.

"We are truly privileged to have such a remarkable educator at South Fork High School,” Interim Principal Jaime Thompson shared. “Ms. Gorton’s passion for mathematics has given students a newfound confidence in their abilities. She is also a true leader for our students, enabling positive change not only in the school but throughout the community.”

Middle School Teacher of the Year – sponsored by Publix Super Markets Charities
Joy Kastanias, Treasure Coast Classical Academy, Upper School Literature Teacher

Joy Kastanias has proudly served Treasure Coast Classical Academy for the past three years. She holds an undergraduate degree in English and Psychology from the University of Alabama and a graduate degree in Law from the DePaul University College of Law. Ms. Kastanias not only serves as a higher-level literary teacher at TCCA, but she also took on the responsibility for our literature teachers as Department Chair. When she’s not teaching Literature, she pioneered the Robotics team for the 2022-2023 school year. In that role, she served as the staff representative and was responsible for finding the funding needed to appropriately challenge our students in the Robotics Club. She went above and beyond to create an experience that helped scholars grow into amazing humans.

“I have had the privilege of working closely with Mrs. Kastanias for the past three years and throughout our time together, I have been impressed by her unwavering commitment to education and the positive impact she has on her students,” Principal Kirsten Pendleton shared in her nomination letter. “Joy possesses an extraordinary ability to connect with students, inspire them to learn, and foster an inclusive and supportive learning environment…Her ability to connect with students on a personal level, foster a love of learning, and inspire them to achieve their full potential is truly commendable.”

Elementary Teacher of the Year – sponsored by MIDFLORIDA Credit Union
Joshua Perry, Crystal Lake Elementary School, 5th Grade Teacher of the Gifted

**Winner of the 2023-2024 Martin County Teacher of the Year Award

Spirit Award – sponsored by Live Hearty
Bessey Creek Elementary School

The Spirit Award is distributed annually to the team that displays the most school spirit during the Education Foundation of Martin County's Teacher of the Year gala. The winning school retains the title and bragging rights for the remainder of the school year.

To view each school's nominee for this year's award, please click here.

About Martin County School District

Located on Florida's Treasure Coast, the Martin County School District (MCSD) offers an array of opportunities for students based on their unique interests, needs and passions. MCSD maintains robust academic standards, renowned arts and athletics programs, and numerous career and technical education opportunities. Students benefit from the District's many partnerships with business and community organizations, as well as character development, environmental stewardship and civic leadership programs. The mission of MCSD is to educate all students for success.