Ribault High educator Charles Darwin Magdaluyo, who teaches human anatomy and physiology, is this year’s Duval County Public Schools Teacher of the Year.
Magdaluyo and four other finalists were honored for their achievements Saturday night at the EDDY Awards — a private gala hosted by the Jacksonville Public Education Fund.
“The EDDYs give us the opportunity to recognize excellence in education and the professionals who do so much for our students every day,” said Rachael Tutwiler Fortune, president of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund. “We know that the key to closing the opportunity gap for low-income students and students of color lies in supporting our teachers and holding them accountable in their work.”
The EDDY Awards – now in their 31st year – have returned to their gala format after pivoting to a live-streamed luncheon during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. The event aired again this year on WJXT/Channel 4 and hosted by local anchor Melanie Lawson.
Who is Charles Darwin Magdaluyo?
Known to his students as Mr. M, Magdaluyo has been teaching for seven years. He teaches human anatomy and physiology to freshmen and seniors.
Originally from the Philippines, Magdaluyo started professional learning communities within the Duval Schools to help other international teachers learn about teaching in Jacksonville. He also serves as a training facilitator and mentor for science teachers throughout the district.
In his application, Magdaluyo said he understood what it was like to be a struggling student, as he also struggled in class.
“What inspires me as an educator are the successes of my students,” he said. “Every ‘ah-ha!’ moment, each smiling face each time they understand something they thought was difficult, each time they take the risk of doing something in front of the class to show that they can also do what other students can do — these are things that not only inspire me but drive me to do better day by day.
But Magdaluyo almost didn’t become a teacher.
His parents wanted him to become a doctor and he went so far as to pass the medical board exams. He succeeded, but told his parents he couldn’t get rid of his desire to teach. So they made a compromise: he could teach human anatomy.
How is the Duval Schools Teacher of the Year selected?
Selecting EDDY Awards finalists and winners is no small feat.
From the school district’s 180 Teachers of the Year, 15 semi-finalists are selected. From there, five are named finalists.
This year’s finalists were Amanda Hildenbrand, Shakeya Lee, Candice Lilly, Nick Nelson and Magdaluyo.
Semi-finalists, runners-up and the overall winner are selected by community committees, which are made up of a group of teachers, representatives from Duval Teachers United, members of the PTA and more.
According to the education fund, committee members review initial applications and possibly observe a group of teachers in the classroom as part of the decision-making process.
“Mr. Magdaluyo represents all of the exceptional qualities that our teachers bring to our classrooms every day,” Superintendent Diana Greene said in a press release. “The first thing you notice is her energy and his enthusiasm for student success. Then you see the exceptional quality of his teaching craft, especially the way he individualizes teaching to reach every student.”
Greene added, “He inspires and motivates students in a very special and effective way. His drive and impact extend far beyond his classroom.”
Current Magdaluyo students seem to agree.
“In this class, we are never afraid to ask questions and make mistakes in the concepts he teaches. We feel valued. We belong,” said Jasmyn, who was featured in the education fund finalist roundup. “Mr. Magdaluyo creates a safe environment for us in his classroom that allows us to ask for help if we don’t understand something…He tries to connect with all of us students and bond. I sincerely believe he is the best teacher in Duval County, and I wouldn’t believe you if you said he was less than the best in all of Florida.
What happens now that Mr. Magdaluyo has won the Duval Teacher of the Year award?
As the 2022 Duval County VyStar Teacher of the Year, Magdaluyo will continue to compete for the statewide title.
Last year, Duval Schools Teacher of the Year award-winning Jim Schmitt, a history teacher at Mandarin High, was named state finalist for the highest honor.
Magdaluyo also received a cash prize, a classroom scholarship, and a seat on the board of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund.
All teachers of the year had access to a year-long professional development program.
State Teacher of the Year finalists will be named in the spring.
This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: Charles Darwin Magdaluyo of Ribault High is Duval teacher of the year