MARION COUNTY –Leah Bender of West Port High School was announced as Marion County’s 2022 Teacher of the Year Saturday night at the annual Golden Apple Gala sponsored by the Public Education Foundation of Marion County.
As the Teacher of the Year, Bender received a new, pre-paid, three-year leased vehicle from Jenkins Auto Group in Ocala. She will now submit her packet to the Florida Department of Education to compete for Florida’s Teacher of the Year.
A graduate from the University of Phoenix, Bender received both her bachelor’s in English literature and her master’s in secondary education from the institution. She now teaches Advanced Placement (AP) English Literature and Composition, AP Capstone Seminar, and AP Capstone Research.
Bender is in her seventh year of teaching, with all of her experience stemming as a member of the West Port High School staff.
Other finalists and Golden Apple recipients this year included Beth Abel of Lake Weir Middle School, Jennifer Bourque of Harbour View Elementary School, Joanne Houghton of Fort McCoy School, and Hannah Whitston from Madison Street Academy.