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Escambia County Teacher of the Year finds inspiration in students

Escambia County Teacher of the Year finds inspiration in students

Communities have spent the last couple of months celebrating our teachers of the year at the school and district level. Carla Ross is an educator who never had teaching in her career plans.

Mrs. Ross is an instructor for the Marketing and Entrepreneurship Academy at Booker T. Washington High School. Her education and background are in the garment industry as a pattern maker, grader and fashion designer. When she moved to Pensacola, she couldn't find a good paying job in her field. Her husband recommended teaching, but she never imagined herself here.

"I hated school when I was in high school and college. I didn't think it was for me, but I fell in love with the students. It was the interaction. It was giving back. It was having a purpose," Carla said.

She brought her passion for the business world into the schoolhouse. Now, a 35-year veteran of the classroom, she lives and breathes teaching and her students feel it.

"Mrs. Ross brings enthusiasm into the classroom every day. She has a different way of teaching and it's really great. It's more of a hands-on class and it's really enjoyable," high school junior Tristan Motes said.

It's very hands on. Mrs. Ross immerses her students in the real world of work; teaching every aspect of running a business - production, advertising, sales, and distribution. There's the Wildcat Snack Store surveying and catering to customer demands.

The Cat Shack Cafeteria is a collaboration with the culinary academy.

Mrs. Ross brought in a real operational credit union with support from community partner Pen Air.

Nonstop activity with students on task and serious about doing business. It's all under the watchful eye of someone they see as more than a teacher.

"If something's wrong, she'll tell you right away. She'll pull you aside and make sure you feel better, make sure you're on top of your game. Mrs. Ross is, she's the reason I stayed on," said senior Hannah Feltus.

Students who are not even in her class, former students, co-workers - they seek out Carla Ross.

"Life guidance, a lot of former students will call in and we just need advice. She's just someone who's always there," said Advisor Assistant Marketing Entrepreneurship Academy Kenita Mitchell.

It may not have been in her plan, but Carla Ross certainly found her calling.

"I've come to realize what an honorable profession. Being the best we can be for these students; just loving them through," she said.

Angels In Our Midst is sponsored by Nemours Children's Specialty Care.

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