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East Lake Middle Teacher Named Pinellas Educator of the Year

Sarah Dobes | East Lake Middle | Pinellas Educator of Year

The announcement was made Tuesday (Feb. 2) night.

PINELLAS COUNTY -Sarah Dobes, an eighth-grade teacher at East Lake Middle School Academy of Engineering, was named Pinellas County Schools’ 2016 Outstanding Educator. The award was presented Tuesday night during the Evening of Excellence at Ruth Eckerd Hall.

Dobes began her career with Pinellas County Schools 10 years ago. She has taught at Dunedin Highland and Seminole middle schools. Dobes currently teaches language arts and English I Honors at East Lake Middle. In addition, she helped East Lake Middle achieve accreditation, and presented a leadership course titled “Mindfulness in the Classroom” at the Florida League of Middle School Regional Conference in September 2015.

“I am absolutely proud and honored to represent Pinellas County Schools,” Dobes said.
Dobes will now be entered into the state Teacher of the Year competition sponsored by the Florida Department of Education.
“Walking into Sarah’s classroom, you immediately gather a sense of her eclectic personality and teaching style,” said Karen Huzar principal, East Lake Middle School Academy of Engineering. “She is not only academically driven but she is team driven.”
The nine other finalists for Outstanding Educator were also recognized Tuesday night. They are
  • Deanna Barthel, a language arts teacher at Countryside High
  • Wendy Bruce, an arts teacher at Ponce de Leon Elementary
  • Alicia Isaac, a ninth-grade AP human geography/12th grade AP government and politics teacher at Boca Ciega High
  • Marissa McCarthy, a seventh-grade gifted math teacher at Thurgood Marshall Middle
  •  Randy McGonegal, a ninth and 11th grade IB biology teacher at Palm Harbor University High
  • Jennifer Raffaele, a second grade teacher at Bardmoor Elementary
  • Christine Rose, a literacy coach at Fairmount Park Elementary
  • Denise Steele, a third-grade English language arts teacher at Frontier Elementary
  • Jennifer Velez, a physical education teacher at Sexton Elementary.

In addition to naming the Outstanding Educator, Alicia Isaac was given the Outstanding Educator Fan Favorite Award. This award category was voted on by students, parents and the community via the Pinellas Education Foundation’s website. More than 10,000 votes were cast for Fan Favorite this year.

“Each of the finalists honored embody the characteristics of a great educator. These teachers are passionate about their work and convey that enthusiasm to their students, peers and administrators,” said Michael A. Grego, superintendent of Pinellas County Schools. “Pinellas County Schools’ greatest successes can be attributed to our quality educators, and I could not be more proud of what we have accomplished together for our students.”

For information about Pinellas schools, go to

Photograph of Sarah Dobes courtesy of Pinellas County Schools.

Pinellas County Schools | Pinellas Teacher of Year | Pinellas Educator of Year | Sarah Dobes | TB Reporter

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