TOP 5. Name, Mary Reynolds, Johanna Lopez, Name and Name pose together after Lopez became the 2017 Orange County Teacher of the Year. photo courtesy/OCPS Media Relations
TOP 5. Name, Mary Reynolds, Johanna Lopez, Name and Name pose together after Lopez became the 2017 Orange County Teacher of the Year. photo courtesy/OCPS Media Relations
TOP 5. Ginger Carter, Winter Park Ninth Grade Center; Mary Elizabeth Reynolds, ESE Health Services & Behavior Support; Johanna Lopez, Colonial High; Gina Sullivan Minchey, Lake Nona Middle; and Danielle Lynn Miller, University High pose together after Lopez became the 2017 Orange County Teacher of the Year. photo courtesy/Strawbridge Photography

For the first time Orange County Public Schools named an ESE teacher of the year.  Mary Reynolds, who has been teaching for 26 years, earned that honor.

While she not have been named the 2017 OCPS Teacher of the Year, she was one of the Top 5 finalists of the 193 schools of the 10th largest school district in the nation.

“It is a great honor to be recognized as one of the Top 5 teachers of the year. I don’t feel this recognition is about me, but I feel it represents all the hard work that is done by the amazing group of itinerant teachers who work with students who are deaf and hard of hearing and visually impaired. I have been fortunate in my career to work with an outstanding group of teachers that often go unnoticed as they go in and out of various schools in the district supporting ESE students,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds is an itinerant teacher for deaf and hard of hearing students, who travels to different schools to work with students who have hearing loss to make sure they have access to instruction.

Although known around the Boone campus, Reynolds also works in surrounding schools such as Kaley Elementary, Blankner School, Lake Como Elementary and Conway Middle School. For the past six years, she has been assigned to Boone for half a day.

“I enjoy helping deaf and hard of hearing students develop to their full potential and gain confidence that they can do whatever they want in the future,” Reynolds said.

Since arriving at Boone, Reynolds has worked to improve the school, especially where it affects the DHH students. When she first arrived, there was limited technology resources available for the deaf students. Along with her supervisor, she wrote a grant and received 10 computers, two printers, two Smartboards and several document cameras and projectors to be used with deaf students. She also wrote a grant to get iPads for deaf students to use at school and at home to help increase their literary skills.

“One of the biggest challenges of my career has been working with deaf students who also have additional challenges such as intellectual disabilities or blindness. There is a great sense of satisfaction when you see these students succeeding,” Reynolds said. “The accomplishments of the deaf students at Boone are not my accomplishments alone. They are the result of team work between the teachers of the deaf, sign language interpreters and general education teachers. We have had several deaf students who have passed their End of Course Exams indicating proficiency in their specific class. We had a deaf student who received a level 3 on an AP Exam! We have deaf students who leave Boone High School with skills they did not have when they entered this school.”

With 26 years of working in OCPS and six years at Boone, Reynolds has multiple memories to look back upon.

“There are so many memories that I will cherish. I love watching deaf students I taught in elementary school walk across the stage to graduate from Boone High School. I am always thrilled when I connect with former students on Facebook and see that they are living happy, productive, independent lives,” Reynolds said. “I will also miss being part of the Boone family. My family has had a long history with Boone High School. My mother-in-law was a student assistant to William R. Boone when he was the principal of Orlando High School. My husband and both of my daughters graduated from Boone. My niece is currently a student at Boone. I will miss working at a school that my family has been connected to for many years.”

Reynolds will retire at the end of this school year.

“[After retiring,] I plan on working on sleeping in and enjoying long cups of coffee in the morning, working on several hobbies, reading, traveling and volunteering,” Reynolds said.

By Cassady Quintana

I am a junior on the BHS Lady Braves varsity basketball team, varsity flag football team and a second year Boone Pubs staffer. I am addicted to sweet tea and I love music.

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