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BCPS Announces Five Finalists for Teacher of the Year

December 3, 2019,

Caliber Awards

Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) announces the five finalists for the 2020 Caliber Awards Teacher of the Year, who were nominated from a field of 226 teachers representing their school’s Teacher of the Year. Recognized for their exemplary service in education and dedication to their students, the finalists were selected by a distinguished panel of educators and business/community members.

This year, three elementary school and two high school veteran educators are vying for the coveted award representing the thousands of excellent educators in BCPS. The Teacher of the Year will be named at the 2020 Caliber Awards Ceremony, recognizing the District’s outstanding teachers, principals, assistant principals and school-related employees. The ceremony takes place on Thursday, January 16, 2020, at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center.

Congratulations to BCPS Teacher of the Year Finalists:

Arnita Kethireddy, a literacy coach at North Side Elementary School, is a 26-year veteran teacher. A desire to instill the love of learning in children is the reason she became an educator. “Our job as educators is to help students see their potential,” said Kethireddy. “The joy that I experience when children are engaged in authentic learning inspires me to come to work each and every day.”

North Side Elementary Principal Heilange Porcena says Kethireddy goes the extra mile for her students, teachers, families and community. “In my 24 years in public education, I have not come in contact with a more dedicated, caring and noble professional educator.”

Dr. Miranti Murphy has spent the last six of her 36 years in education as the literacy coach at Boulevard Heights Elementary School. “I’m inspired by the opportunity to meet the needs of a diverse student population and to prepare students for real-world experiences and expectations, including college and career readiness,” said Murphy. 

Boulevard Heights Elementary Principal Juan Alejo acknowledges Murphy’s impeccable performance and dedication to her work. “She mentors and coaches her peers in National Board accomplished practices, instructional strategies, data analysis and lesson planning. Her support and mentoring techniques are highly effective as evidenced by student achievement.” 

Dr. Iris Payan, a chemistry teacher at Hollywood Hills High School for the last 19 years, combines 21st century skills and life lessons in her science classes. She has witnessed her students grow in science literacy and become productive young adults. “The best reward is when students graduate and return to thank me for the academic and life lessons they learned in my class,” Payan said. Genuinely caring for her students, she establishes a safe environment to makes connections on a personal level, and encourages them to believe that they can overcome any challenge.

“Her infectious enthusiasm and content expertise are second to none,” says Hollywood Hills High Principal Lourdes Gonzalez.  “Dr. Payan has an impeccable level of professionalism and strives to ensure her students learn important life lessons along with chemistry. We’re fortunate to have such a remarkable educator as part of our school community.”

Cari Rodriguez, a 21-year veteran educator, has spent the last six years at Harbordale Elementary School, where she serves as the literacy coach. Whenever possible, she combines fun with learning. “Student achievement is my inspiration,” says Rodriguez. “Whether building an igloo while studying the Inuit, eating pasta puttanesca while reading, or dancing and singing to multiplication facts, I want my students to enjoy learning.”

Principal Theresa Bucolo says, “Rodriguez quickly became an important member of our team, providing valuable curriculum and classroom support. She is committed to Harbordale’s mission and vision, and has helped to develop programs and activities designed to provide positive educational experiences for all students.”

Sarah Zorn-Milmed, a biology teacher at West Broward High School, has taught for 18 years. She believes that every student has the potential to soar if given the opportunity and support to help them reach their academic and life goals. “My inspiration comes from my students. I do everything in my power to ensure that they meet success on their individual paths,” Zorn-Milmed said. She encourages and provides the support necessary to help students not only succeed, but excel. 

West Broward High Principal Brad Fatout says, “Mrs. Zorn-Milmed is an asset to the entire school community, as well as our local community. She is a proven educational leader who goes above and beyond in all that she does.” 

The Caliber Awards presenting sponsor is BrightStar Credit Union. Supporting Caliber Awards sponsors include: Aetna, After School Programs, Inc. (ASP), Broward Principals’ and Assistants’ Association (BPAA), Dell Financial Services, Grand Canyon University, Herff Jones, JetBlue, Nova Southeastern University – Abraham S. Fischler School of Education, Pearson and Sunshine AfterSchool Child Care, Inc.




“Committed to educating all students to reach their highest potential.”

Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) is the sixth-largest school district in the nation and the second-largest in the state of Florida. BCPS is Florida’s first fully accredited school system since 1962. BCPS has nearly 270,000 students and approximately 175,000 adult students in 241 schools, centers and technical colleges, and 89 charter schools. BCPS serves a diverse student population, with students representing 204 different countries and 191 different languages. To connect with BCPS, visit, follow us on Twitter @browardschools, on Facebook at and download the free BCPS mobile app.