September Teacher Spotlight: Yvonne Samuels



Yvonne Samuels teaches 4th grade in the FSDB Deaf Elementary School (DES). She was honored both as DES Teacher of the Year and as FSDB Teacher of the Year for 2019-2020.


Samuels enjoys her large classroom in the recently renovated Gore Hall building and uses the generous space to reinforce educational concepts in a positive manner, display bright pieces of art, and maintain a good-sized classroom library. Her bulletin board in the hallway contains an important message: “The Sky is the Limit.” Outside the classroom, she pursues artistic and fitness interests, read on for the interview below!




How did you become a teacher at FSDB?

I have always wanted to be a teacher. You know how when people ask you when you are younger, “What do you want to be when you grow up,” my answer was always “a teacher.” I did not intend to be in Deaf Education, but it was hard for me not to go in that direction. My father retired from teaching here at FSDB, and both of my parents attended school here. FSDB was my second home growing up since my dad coached a lot of different sports during his time here. So, it just makes sense that I ended up here!


Why did you choose to work with elementary children?

I feel like I am a major kid at heart and working with younger children allows me to be my most authentic self.


What are your teaching passions?

I have always wanted to teach, but in more recent years, I have started teaching more in the fitness world. I am a Zumba instructor and recently passed training to teach Body Pump workouts. So not only do I teach elementary students, I help people become healthier versions of themselves.



What lesson have you learned from your students most recently?

I continue to learn how to be patient when working with students. I’d say overall that I am a pretty patient person, but sometimes my buttons get pressed. You just don’t know what a person is going through, and I forget to put myself in the other person’s shoes. I have to remind myself constantly about that, thanks to my students.


Any “aha!” student learning moments you would like to share?

We recently read a story written by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s sister, and it talks about the life they had growing up during segregation. The students were shocked by the treatment people received. It made my heart happy when the students discussed how it doesn’t matter what your skin color is and that we should all be treated fairly.


What do you do with your time outside the classroom?

I work out pretty much every day for at least an hour. I consider it my “me time.” I especially love Zumba and dancing. I enjoy reading and spending time with my family, as well.


By Christi Boortz, Instructional Services

About FSDB

The Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind is a tuition-free state public school and outreach center available to eligible Pre-K and K-12 students who are deaf/hard of hearing, blind/visually impaired, or deafblind. At FSDB, students learn how to do more, be more, and achieve more, fulfilling our vision of preparing them for a lifetime of success. FSDB gratefully accepts private donations to support vital programs that directly benefit students and are not paid by state general revenue funds. For a campus tour or to inquire about eligibility for enrollment, contact FSDB Parent Services at 904-827-2212 voice or 904-201-4527 videophone. For more information, visit www.fsdbk12.org

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