A historic achievement

Dali Stires awarded Teacher of the Year


Dali Stires teaches her AP World History students during first period.


It’s the first day of school, and Dali Stires already knows what’s going to happen. Her former students will walk into her class with smug grins on their faces, bragging about their high scores on their AP Exam. Even though she already knows exactly what they scored, hearing about her students’ successes is one of her favorite parts of teaching.

Stires won Teacher of the Year on Sept. 7th. Currently teaching AP Human Geography and AP World History, Stires has had 13 years of experience teaching in Seminole County, five at Hagerty. Over her teaching career, she has also taught Law Studies, World Geography, and all levels of U.S. History. In 2009, Stires won the Florida Council of Social Studies Teacher of the Year, which recognizes outstanding teachers in each of Florida’s school districts.   

Every school year, teachers and administration nominate and select a Teacher of the Year. This process starts when teachers send in a nominee and an explanation of why that teacher should be chosen. The staff then takes a vote, and the person with the most votes earns the title.

There are several qualities that administration looks for during this process.

“[Teachers] should have a growth mindset, and make whatever content they are teaching relevant to the student like how it applies to them in the future,” assistant principal Doug Miller said. “What makes Mrs. Stires stand out is her commitment to excellence in the classroom with her style of teaching.”

Before Stires started teaching at Hagerty, she taught at Rock Lake Middle School from 2005-2012 and Crooms Academy from 2012-2013. She decided to start teaching after her daughters entered middle school.

“I found that I truly enjoyed working with students. I would volunteer at my daughters’ school, and I loved seeing students who struggled to understand a concept become successful,” Stires said.  

In her class, Stires uses a flipped classroom method; students take notes at home and do activities in class to reinforce their knowledge from their notes. This is drastically different than when she first began teaching, where she would stand at the front of the classroom and give lectures.

“I have discovered that it is better to do little lectures and allow students to work together to discover and understand the content,” Stires said.

Freshmen who have never taken an AP class before find Stires to be a tough teacher. Many of them complain about the amount of work she gives compared to their other teachers. But she wants her students to succeed. This is why she gives instructions as soon as the bell rings.

“When you walk into class, you know that you are going to be productive. She is very direct and does not try to give you a very vague answer or something that bends the truth,” freshman Chase Kaplan said.

Despite her occasionally intimidating demeanor, Stires believes in her students and is willing to go the extra mile. During a U.S. History class, one of her students was having a difficult time understanding the concept she was teaching, and Stires learned that her student was tired because of her baby keeping her up all night. The two formed a bond through this experience, and the student ended up graduating high school and going to college.

“I was amazed. I respected that she had made the decision to come to school, despite her circumstances,” Stires said. “She taught me a valuable lesson, to remind myself that my students may be facing difficult times and that’s up to me to make sure they feel safe and secure while they are learning.”