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Florida Teacher Named 2023 National Special Education Teacher of the Year

Dr. Kristie Jo Redfering holding an award for teacher of the year with CEC President. Blue background with text "Dr. Kristie Jo Redfering 2023 Special Education Teacher of the Year", Council for Exceptional Children logo, and award design.

Location: Nina Harris Exceptional Student Education Center, Pinellas Park, FL 

Jan. 18, 2023 ― Dr. Kristie Jo Redfering, a special education teacher at Nina Harris Exceptional Student Education Center in Pinellas Park, Florida, has been named the 2023 Teacher of the Year Award from the Council for Exceptional Children. The award recognizes excellence among teachers who provide direct services to children and youth with exceptionalities and who exemplify the best in supporting students with disabilities and/or gifts and talents.   

CEC President Angie Jasper and Executive Director Chad Rummel surprised Redfering with the award Wednesday, alongside school and district officials and local and state CEC leaders.   

“Dr. Redfering is the perfect example of a dedicated, passionate educator who cares about the success of her students,” Jasper said. “It’s an honor to recognize her as someone who bridges the gaps across her school and community to help her students grow.”   

Dr. Redfering knows her students inside and out, and strategically creates the ideal learning environment for all. Her classroom is a community – an extension of the larger community in which they all live. Lessons involve individualized communication systems, independent functioning skills, and social/emotional skills, using the activities she has developed to accommodate each student’s needs.    

An outstanding example of Dr. Redfering’s talent and dedication is the Suds Club in which high school students, preparing for an extended transition program, use their high and low technology systems to take part in a multi-step laundry service within the school. Dr. Redfering works with fellow teachers and professionals to ensure the students have every mean of support necessary to practice written and verbal communication, multi-step processes, social skills, financial skills, and so much more.    

Her impact is not only on her own students but carries on to other students in her district. Dr. Redfering opens her classroom and knowledge to fellow professionals to learn how they can implement similar strategies.    

“She is the finest model for new teachers to learn from. She believes in the growth of her students,” said Dr. Redfering’s nominator and principal of the Nina Harris ESE Center, Jacqueline Cassidy. “There is simply no job too big or too small for Dr. Redfering. She exemplifies all that it means to be a dedicated teacher, mentor, and leader each and every day.”   

As the 2023 CEC Teacher of the Year, Dr. Redfering will receive a $2,000 cash prize, $1,000 classroom grant, and travel and accommodations to attend the CEC annual convention in Louisville where she will be recognized in front of her peers. The CEC Teacher of the Year is selected by the CEC Honors Committee and the award is sponsored by Let’s Go Learn, one of CEC’s premier sponsors. 

“We are so happy to sponsor the CEC Teacher of the Year as it gives us a chance to showcase excellent educators like Dr. Redfering,” said Richard Capone, CEO of Let’s Go Learn. “I am excited we can be a part of celebrating Dr. Redfering and her commitment to her students' success.” 

About Us 

The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) is the largest international professional organization dedicated to high-quality education that is inclusive and equitable for individuals with disabilities. 

Thanks to this year’s sponsor, Lets GO Learn. Let's Go Learn provides highly diagnostic online assessments, automated progress monitoring, and gap-focused SDI to help teachers write IEPs faster and with greater accuracy as well as support their students’ academic achievements. 

Media Contacts  Annie Drinkard, 703-264-9455, adrinkard@exceptionalchildren.org  Director of Communications and Publications, Council for Exceptional Children 

Posted:  18 January, 2023
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