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Florida middle school science teacher to compete on 'Jeopardy!'

Christina LaFortune
Florida Today
Walton Sun

Amanda Baltimore, a 7th grade science teacher at DeLaura Middle School in Satellite Beach, Fla will compete in the 2020 "Jeopardy!" Teachers Tournament. The tournament begins Monday, May 25 at 7 p.m.

The episodes were filmed in February, prior to the coronavirus pandemic. In early March, "Jeopardy!" began filming without a live audience before suspending production altogether on March 20.

"We lucked out," Baltimore said. "That was two weeks before everything started shutting down. We just made it."

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Baltimore and her fellow competitors returned home from filming in Los Angeles to find everything changing rapidly. Schools were closing due to COVID-19, leading to quarantines and a shift to virtual learning.

"It's just been a strange year overall," she said. "One of my competitors said, 'Here I thought going on 'Jeopardy!' was going to be the craziest thing that happened to me in 2020!'"

The annual "Jeopardy!" Teachers Tournament features 15 teachers for grades K-12 competing for a $100,000 grand prize and a spot in the next Tournament of Champions.

“This tournament was created because 'Jeopardy!' is committed to showing appreciation for our teachers, and this year’s edition carries even more significance as educators everywhere face a whole new set of challenges,” said the show's host, Alex Trebek.

"It was an absolutely incredible experience," Baltimore said. "I really did live a dream. That hit me on the plane ride home, that I just accomplished a bucket list thing."

Baltimore's said her students are looking forward to cheering for her when the tournament starts. "Once they found out, they were all very excited," she said. "I have heard from them during this virtual learning that they are going to be watching."

The advice Baltimore would give future 'Jeopardy!' hopefuls sounds a lot like insightful life advice: Study your weaknesses, know what you know, don't let mistakes rattle you, just be yourself. And above all, don't give up.

"If all of a sudden you realize, 'Oh my gosh, I'm so nervous!' Everybody else is too. So it's okay, just roll with it," she said. "Just have fun, and keep trying."

To learn more about the tournament, visit jeopardy.com.

Christina LaFortune is the Entertainment and TgIF Editor at FLORIDA TODAY. Follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/christinalafortune, on Twitter at @lafortunec, or send her an email at clafortune@floridatoday.com.