I discovered my love of learning in fifth grade thanks to Mrs. McCoy. I was a student at the Douglas Anderson School in Jacksonville. Back then, first through 12th grade were housed in the same school.
My teachers during my first four years of school were very strict and stern in their approach, but Mrs. McCoy was completely different. She was more nurturing, loving, and positive in her teaching style, and it brought out the best in me.
It was the first time I saw education in a positive light, and I fell in love with learning.
Mrs. McCoy recognized that I was a strong writer for my age and encouraged me to enter a declamatory contest. I had never heard of such a contest, so this was something completely new and different for me. I wrote a personal composition, presented it to the school, and won the opportunity to be Douglas Anderson’s representative at the citywide competition. Her encouragement to take on a new challenge ignited my interest in English and writing.
When kids come from different socioeconomic backgrounds they can sometimes be stigmatized, and we may miss the unique skills they have or something in them that’s special. Teachers like Mrs. McCoy are able to recognize the talent in their students, encourage it, and help it grow. She took the time to make sure I was getting what I needed to succeed.
Teachers face a difficult and challenging job each and every day, and I’m thankful for those who take time to nurture and invest in their students’ success the way Mrs. McCoy did in mine.
Tony Jenkins is the Central Florida Market President for Florida Blue, a leader in the state’s health industry. In his appointed role, he is instrumental in leading development of a business plan to increase and retain membership, enhance brand visibility and coordinate employee engagement. Tony was recently named a CEO of the Year by the Orlando Business Journal. He is extremely active in the Central Florida community serving as a board trustee and chair of the Student Affairs Committee for Stetson University, a member of the UCF Downtown Executive Advisory Council, a gubernatorial appointee and chairman of the Florida Commission on Human Rights as well as roles with several other community organizations.