Hernando County’s Teacher of the Year is Lt. Cmdr. Christian Cruz, the head of Central High School’s nationally recognized Naval Junior ROTC program, the school district announced Tuesday.
Cruz joined the program in 2019 after a 30-year career in the US Navy.
“I am a product of the JROTC program,” Cruz said in a district press release. “From kindergarten to senior year, I attended the U.S. Military Academy in Puerto Rico. After graduation, I joined the U.S. Navy. The JROTC program provided me with all the tools and resources to succeed in I couldn’t think of a better way to reward the efforts of every instructor who has taught me and helped me along the way than to lead Central’s NJROTC cadets.
According to the district, an ROTC colleague urged Cruz to consider leading the Brooksville school program after his retirement from the Navy.
“All it took for me to say yes to this opportunity was a walk through the halls of ROTC. It spoke to me of many years of consistent success,” Cruz said.
“We are grateful for his military service and honored that he continues to serve the students of Central,” Hernando School Superintendent John Stratton said in the district statement. “He is a model of integrity and an exemplary educator who teaches students to learn and lead with confidence and pride.”
Hernando’s announcement comes as other districts in the region recognize their best teachers.
The Pinellas County School District will announce its Teacher of the Year during a ceremony Wednesday night at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg. Hillsborough County Public Schools selected Laura Widerberg, a biology teacher at Armwood High, as the district’s top teacher last week.
The Pasco County Teacher of the Year, announced in December, is drama teacher Ryan Bintz of Longleaf Elementary.
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