Supporters Programs Calendar Giving Fund Raising Events
Futures Foundation for Volusia County Schools

Take Stock in Children - Click Here

Help Our Cause: Click Here to Donate
FUTURES, Inc. d/b/a FUTURES Foundation for Volusia County Schools is a tax-exempt 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. You will receive a gift confirmation and a tax receipt via first class mail. A copy of the official registration #CH10078 and financial information may be obtained from the Florida Division of Consumer Services at or by calling toll-free 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352) within the state. Registration does not imply endorsement, approval, or recommendation by the state. No portion of any contribution is retained by professional solicitors, so 100% of each contribution is received by this organization. Your contribution is tax deductible as allowed by law.
Sign Up for Our Newsletter

Teacher of the Year 2018

Volusia School District Names Jason Kester
Teacher of the Year!


Jason Kester, culinary arts teacher from Mainland High School, is Volusia County Schools' Teacher of the Year for 2018. He will serve as Volusia County's Teacher of the Year for one year, representing all of Volusia's teachers.

Mr. Kester received his award before an audience of more than 900 friends of public education at the Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort on Friday, January 13, 2017. The announcement was made at a celebration presented by Halifax Health and co-hosted by FUTURES Foundation and Volusia County Schools.

"The Teacher of the Year event, presented by Halifax Health, is a time for FUTURES and all its partners to celebrate one teacher from every school who has brought something extra special to the table of education and our students," said John Guthrie, FUTURES Foundation President. "The electricity in the room is something I look forward to every year. It is an event that is about one thing…great teachers we are fortunate to have in our county."

Mr. Kester earned his bachelor degree from Purdue University and began his career with Volusia County Schools at Mainland High in 2008. He is the founder and director of the Academy of Hospitality and Culinary Arts at Mainland where he collaborates with two other instructors and facilitates a student management team. As a "branch leader" in Mainland's new wall-to-wall career academy model, he supervises three academies and works in partnership with 25 teachers. In addition, he is a teacher mentor for two first-year faculty members, serves as a teacher leader with a team of nine other teachers, and is a program assistant for the high school culinary program at the county level.

The Mainland High culinary program is one of 21 Premier ProStart programs in the entire state of Florida, as determined by the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. Culinary students participate in competitions, frequently cater special events and are encouraged to earn the ProStart Certificate of Achievement, which is a CAPE (Career and Professional Education) industry certification. Last year, six of Mr. Kester's students passed the rigorous state certification.

Prior to becoming a teacher, Mr. Kester worked as a restaurant operator and he considers the two jobs very similar. He believes building relationships with students, families, teachers and administrators is a priority and stated in his Teacher of the Year application form that "one positive, professional, adult relationship can make all the difference in a student's future."

Mr. Kester is inspired by his students' dedication, creativity and energy. He believes it is important to remember that failure is a necessary part of the learning process and students shouldn't be punished for failure that results in learning. He states, "In order to grow, one needs to be challenged." Because he sometimes teaches students for two or three years, he can see that growth and, therefore, his ability to affect change.

Described as one who leads by example with courage, integrity and energy, Mr. Kester succeeds Robin Diedrichs, a fourth grade teacher from Citrus Grove Elementary School, who was Volusia County's 2017 Teacher of the Year.

In addition to Mr. Kester, four other teachers received special recognition as finalists:
  • Susan Dodig, emotionally/behaviorally disabled (K-3), Sweetwater Elementary

  • Jessica L. Ruppen, academic coach, Starke Elementary

  • Gina Marie Walker, exceptional student education language arts, DeLand Middle

  • Robin LynchWeiss, speech/language, Champion Elementary
Three teachers were named recipients of an award that represents the school district's three guiding principles.  Superintendent Russell presented the awards along with a $150 check from FUTURES Foundation to:
  • Heather Williams, academic coach at Cypress Creek Elementary- Guiding Principle #1, Dedication to Increased Student Achievement. Heather's inspiration comes from the success ofher peers as they work together to improve the way they teach ourfuture.  She is passionate about pushing her students to think critically and work collaboratively; and she thrives from sharing knowledge and working collaboratively with other teachers.
  • Melanie Jenkins, honors biology and marine science teacher at Deltona High -Guiding Principle #2,Commitment to Finding Solutions to Problems. Melanie serves as the science department chair, a new teacher mentor, the biology Professional Learning Community team leader, and as a sponsor for three student clubs. As a core teacher in the Health Academy program, Melanie works with business partners to support her programs and activities. She also works closely with other teachers to incorporate STEM topics and to develop programs and activities in an interdisciplinary way.
  • Lynne Seeber, AVID coordinator andelective teacher at Seabreeze High -Guiding Principle #3,Mutual Respect and Positive Relationships with all Stakeholders.  Lynne is determined to deliver the curriculum and teach students to be divergent thinkers and high level questioners, but her truest and most dedicated goal is to love her students. Every Friday, she holds Seeber's Circle where students share about their lives and greet one another with "hugs, handshakes and high fives. "When her students walk into her classroom, they walk into her heart and they are loved.
Major sponsors of the Teacher of the Year celebration included Presenting Sponsor Halifax Health, Gold Sponsors Florida Credit Union and Volusia United Educators, and Silver Sponsors BRPH Architects-Engineers, Inc., Daytona International Speedway, H.J. High Construction, Dr. Robert & Candace Lankford, Launch Federal Credit Union, PNC Bank, Rhodes +  Brito  Architects,  SGM Engineering,  University  of  Central  Florida,  and Weston  & Gregory, PA, CPAs. Bronze sponsors included CPH, Inc., Consolidated-TomokaLand Co., William  & Linda Cuthbert, Giles Electric Company, Inc., Dr. John Hill, M.D., Intracoastal Bank, Mainstreet Community Bank of Florida, Malcolm L. Daigle & Associates, Inc., Carl & Susan Persis, SunTrust Bank, Volusia County Council of PTAs, and Arthur & Ida Wright. 
FUTURES Regent's Club Members who serve as sponsors for all event are Charter Communications/Spectrum, Daytona International Auto Mall, Duke Energy, Florida Health Care Plans, Florida Hospital, and Florida Power & Light while Brown & Brown of Florida, Inc., and Cobb Cole serve as a Chancellor's Club Members for 2016-17.

Leading the in-kind sponsorships is Craig Conway of Diamond Motors & Marine and Daytona Mitsubishi/Kia who provides the use of a new automobile to the Teacher of the Year during his/her reign. This is Mr. Conway's seventh year in supplying a vehicle. Additional in-kind sponsors include Daytona Beach News-Journal, Dean Stewart Photography, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Express Printing, Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort, Jostens Inc., LEGOLAND Florida Resort, Mary's Flower Shoppe, Merlin Entertainments, Nina B. Hollis Institute at Stetson University, Universal Orlando & Blue Man Group, and Wishworks Media.

Dozens of businesses and organizations in Volusia County also contributed donations of goods and services to Volusia's Teacher of the Year program.

Click here to view TOTY photos
Click here to view the TOTY banquet video

Teacher of the Year 2018

Presenting Sponsor


Gold Sponsor


Silver Sponsors



Dr. Robert & Candace Lankford

Rhodes + brito ARCHITECTS

Fred Weston & Paula Gregory

Bronze Sponsors


William & Linda Cuthbert

Dr. John Hill MD

Malcolm L. Daigle & Associates, Inc.

Carl & Susan Persis


Arthur & Ida Wright

In-Kind Sponsors

Diamond Motors & Marine
Daytona Mitsubishi/Kia
Daytona Beach News-Journal
Dean Stewart Photography
Doll Face Hair Refinery
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Express Printing
Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort
Jostens, Inc.
Mary's Flower Shoppe
Merlin Entertainments
Nina B. Hollis Institute at Stetson University
Universal Orlando Resort: Youth Programs
Blue Man Group
Wishworks Media

Volusia's Teacher of the Year

Finalists Named

Five teachers have been named Teacher of the Year finalists and are now competing for the honor of being named Volusia County School District's 2018 Teacher of the Year. The finalists are:

Susan Dodig, emotionally/behaviorally disabled (K-3), Sweetwater Elementary:

Jason Kester, culinary arts, Mainland High:

Jessica L. Ruppen, academic coach, Starke Elementary:

Gina Marie Walker, exceptional student education language arts, DeLand Middle:

Robin Lynch Weiss, speech/language, Champion Elementary: 

Volusia County School's 2018 Teacher of the Year will be announced at a gala banquet to be held Friday, January 13, at the Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanwalk Resort. The Teacher of the Year celebration is hosted by FUTURES Foundation for Volusia County Schools and the presenting sponsor is Halifax Health.

The winner is selected through an application process. Each of Volusia's schools nominates a teacher (see complete list of names below) who completes an application to vie for the district title. A sub-committee narrows the field from 71 nominees to 15 semi-finalists. The full committee, comprised of parents, business owners, community members, teachers and administrators, then reads each of the semi-finalist's applications, selecting the five finalists. Another sub-committee ranks each finalist after observing them in their classrooms and conducting individual interviews. The winner's name is kept confidential until the announcement at the banquet.

The district Teacher of the Year will be nominated for the state Teacher of the Year program and will serve as Volusia's representative of quality education until 2018. The current Volusia County Teacher of the Year is Robin Diedrichs, Blue Lake Elementary (currently Citrus Grove Elementary).

Volusia Schools Select Teacher of the Year Nominees 2018

Each of Volusia County's public schools has completed the process to select its Teacher of the Year. The 71 winners, chosen by their peers, are nominated to compete for the honor of Volusia County School District's 2018 Teacher of the Year (see list of names below). The current Volusia County Teacher of the Year is Robin Diedrichs, who teaches 4th grade at Citrus Grove Elementary.

The 2018 district Teacher of the Year winner will be announced at a gala banquet on Friday, January 13, and will be nominated for the state Teacher of the Year program.

Click below to view a list of this years nominees!

Powered by Alternate Image