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2022 Teacher of the Year!

Sarasota Middle School’s Dr. Jaso named district’s 2022 Teacher of the Year

Innovation award also announced at annual celebration event

SARASOTA, Fla. (Dec. 9, 2021) – Jennifer Jaso, a social studies and critical thinking teacher at Sarasota Middle School, was named the 2022 Sarasota County Teacher of the Year at the annual celebration of educators hosted by the Education Foundation of Sarasota County. 

The Ignite Education awards celebration honoring Sarasota County teachers is a highly anticipated annual event sponsored by the Education Foundation in conjunction with Sarasota County Schools.

Event organizers were happy to resume an in-person celebration, held this year at Michael’s on East in Sarasota, after producing the 2021 tribute as a virtual event due to the pandemic.

“The positive energy that our super-talented teachers generate when they are together is electric and inspiring,” said Education Foundation President Jennifer Vigne. “They have kept up their enthusiasm for teaching and their commitment to students during extremely challenging times, and it’s our honor to acknowledge their dedication and outstanding work.”

This year’s program featured original songs and skits and the banter of co-emcees Shane Swezey and Kari Johnson, the 2019 and 2021 Sarasota County Teachers of the Year. Both Swezey and Johnson advanced to the top five finalists for the state award during their tenures, and Swezey is a teacher representative on the Education Foundation board.

Before Jaso was named as the district’s 2022 Teacher of the Year, videos were shown of her and fellow district finalists--Shannon Haddad of Ashton Elementary School and Loridia Urquiza of Booker High School--and they were welcomed to the stage by their respective 2021 district finalists Emily O’BrienSwope, Samantha Miller, and Becky Satterly.

In addition, Stephanie Vlahakis, the 2021 Innovation Award recipient, announced Jacob Lasorso, an industrial education instructor at Suncoast Technical College, as the 2022 Innovation Award honoree. The award recognizes a Teacher of the Year who is creative in approach, willing to think outside the box, and able to connect students with learning in unique ways.

The 43 Teacher of the Year designees representing their respective schools also were recognized and received cash awards.

For the program’s finale, Sarasota County Schools Superintendent Dr. Brennan Asplen invited Vigne to join him on stage to announce the 2022 district honoree.

“We are extremely thankful for each one of our amazing teachers,” said Sarasota County Schools Superintendent Dr. Brennan Asplen. “Their resilience and commitment are both inspiring and energizing as they passionately serve our students and families. Our Teachers of the Year truly have made a positive impact on the lives of their students and we are very proud of them. Please join me in recognizing these outstanding teachers, as well as extending a special congratulations to our 2022 Teacher of the Year, Dr. Jennifer Jaso.”

Jaso will represent district teachers throughout the 2022 calendar year and serve as the district’s nominee for state Teacher of the Year.

The Education Foundation presented Jaso with a $5,000 cash award and Haddad and Urquiza with awards of $2,500 each.  Vigne thanked Sunset Automotive Group for providing the cash awards and other generous supporters who made it possible to sponsor the celebration event. 

The event was live-streamed and the post-event video can be viewed at

About the Education Foundation of Sarasota County 

The Education Foundation of Sarasota County sponsors the Ignite Education: Teacher of the Year annual recognition in conjunction with Sarasota County Schools. The Education Foundation is an independent, philanthropic organization whose mission is to enhance the potential of all students, promote excellence in teaching, and inspire innovation in education, guided by strategic philanthropy and the belief that education changes lives. 

About Sarasota County Schools

Sarasota County Schools is committed to providing unrivaled academic, emotional, and civic growth to every student, every day. As one of the leading employers on the Suncoast, Sarasota County Schools boasts 55 schools that expertly cater to the diverse needs of over 44,000 students. We are one of two Florida school districts to consistently earn an A-grade every year since 2004 and have been awarded the Mid-Sized School District of the Year by the University of Cambridge. Our passionate educators empower students to take charge of their academic and personal success, a practice we believe fosters lifelong growth and achievement. Working as one, we actively maintain the district’s tradition of excellence and ensure that tradition extends to all students. Our commitment to our students extends beyond graduation to make sure they not only graduate on time, but do so college and career ready. Want to take your student’s education to the next level? Connect with us on social media (@sarasotaschools) or visit