ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Debbie Panico is an A+ Teacher in high demand.

How can you tell? 

Parents are always asking for their kids to be put in her class. And that is because many of those parents were in Panico's class when they were kids. 

What You Need To Know

  • Debbie Panico is this week's A+ Teacher

  • Panico is a veteran Kindergarten teacher at Lakeview Elementary in St. Petersburg

  • More A+ Teacher Stories

Academic excellence is the standard in Panico's Kindergarten class at Lakeview Fundamental Elementary School in St. Petersburg. 

"Every child that's been with me since the first day of school, every single child is reading already," Panico said. "I'm going to challenge your child. We're going to set goals and work to reach those goals."

Panico started teaching in 1984 at Anona Elementary. She has spent the past 35 years at Lakeview. 

"I have another child who was in virtual learning earlier this year, and on Tuesday, it was her first day coming back face to face, and the first words out of her mouth were, 'My mommy used to be in your class' " Panico said. 

Parent Deneen Wyman nominated Panico for the A+ Teacher Award. 

"I was thinking, who can I  nominate and immediately, Mrs. Panico!" said Wyman, who was taught by Panico in 1988. "She's one of my favorite teachers. My son absolutely loves her. He talks about her all the time when he comes home."

Lakeview Elementary Principal Tijuana Baker knows how special Panico is as a teacher. 

"It is very, very rare that you find a leader that has that withitness," said Baker. "That drive, that spark "

Panico said it all comes down to the kids.

"They all have gifts," she said. "We need to make each child feel special with the gifts they have and build up the other areas that we need to build up, and my guiding question is, 'What's best for the kids?'