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Left: Polk County Teacher of the Year Winner Linda Robinson, Right: Polk County School-Related Employee of the Year Norma Reyes
Linda Robinson, a business and marketing teacher at Winter Haven High and Norma Reyes, English for Speakers of Other Languages Paraeducator at Purcell Elementary in Mulberry took top honors this evening at the Polk County Public Schools 2012 Teacher and School-Related Employee of the Year event held at The Lakeland Center.
Robinson was named 2012 Teacher of the Year and Reyes was named 2012 School-Related Employee of the Year before approximately 1,000 teachers, staff members, community members, event sponsors and guests. The School-Related award is for paraeducators, secretaries, maintenance, School Nutrition, transportation and others in support roles.
Teachers and school-related employees were nominated by their individual schools. Robinson and Reyes, along with award finalists announced this evening, received cash awards and other prizes from event sponsors.
Judges were representatives from local businesses and organizations and included former award winners and finalists. They reviewed more than 230 nominee applications and did not know the nominees’ identity or school where they work. Teacher and school-related nominees completed an application with categories that included leadership and professional development activities, community and school involvement and teaching style.
Robinson and Reyes will move on to compete for state Teacher of the Year and state School-Related Employee of the Year honors. Polk teachers have an outstanding streak in the state Teacher of the Year event. Polk has had state finalists in five of the last 14 years -1998, 1999, 2004, 2005 and 2008. Polk had state Teachers of the Year in 2005 (Samuel Bennett, Garner Elementary-Winter Haven) and 1981 (Beth Johnson, Kathleen High – Lakeland).
Polk County Public Schools is the largest employer in Polk County with more than 12,000 employees.
2012 Polk County Teacher of the Year Profile
Winter Haven High School
30 years experience
Linda believes that “life is about opportunities and taking advantage of them when they are presented”, and she emphasizes this to her students every day. Teaching business and marketing, she strives to constantly stay up to date with technology and expose her students to current technology topics that they can relate to and find interesting. Linda’s greatest moments in teaching are when she is able to see students overcome obstacles and adversity and build their own success. Linda not only makes her own students a priority, but also maintains the school’s website and has trained fellow teachers to find innovative ways to communicate with parents and students more effectively. Linda is truly an inspiration to students and teachers alike.
Robinson received $5,000 from MIDFLORIDA Credit Union, $1,000 from other event sponsors, a personalized ring and $500 from Herff Jones and a commemorative plaque.
2012 School-Related Employee of the Year
Purcell Elementary, English for Speakers of Other Languages Paraeducator
10 years experience
Norma is known for providing comfort to her Hispanic students when others cannot seem to understand their needs. Constantly pouring her heart into every aspect of her job comes naturally. Norma is always generous with her time, always willing to step up when another staff member may have a conflict. She always makes sure that school meetings and events run seamlessly and efficiently, always readily available to help or solve a problem. Norma’s slogan is “hard work really pays off.” She uses this to inspire both her own life and the lives of her students as well. Norma is not only an asset to her school but to her community. She has dedicated countless hours to helping organize events such as Relay for Life, Toys for Tots, Pasta for Pennies, and so much more. To Norma, giving back to her students, their families, and to the community is life’s greatest reward.
Reyes received $2,500 from MIDFLORIDA Credit Union, $500 from other event sponsors, a personalized ring from Herff Jones and a commemorative plaque.
Eight finalists for each award were announced during the evening prior to naming the winners.
Robinson was chosen Teacher of the Year among the following teacher finalists:
Dee Ann Frey, Dixieland Elementary, Third Grade
Heidi Kindle, James W. Sikes Elementary, Third Grade
Nicole Taylor, Caldwell Elementary, Network Manager / Instructional Television
Jill Baird, Chain of Lakes Elementary, Kindergarten
Susan Cannon, Fort Meade Middle-Senior High, Sixth Grade Language Arts
Marcia de Meza, Lake Gibson High, Honors Anatomy & Physiology, Honors Biology, and Biotechnology
Alison Marie Landry, Mulberry Middle, Title I Program Facilitator
Teacher of the Year finalists received $1,000 from event sponsors, a leather portfolio and pen from Polk County McDonald’s owners/operators, commemorative plaque and flowers. In addition to being showcased in a full page ad in The Ledger on February 24, 2012, finalists will also be featured on Polk County’s McDonald’s restaurant tray liners.
Reyes was named School-Related Employee of the Year among the following school-related finalists:
Sharon LeVine, Bartow High, Freshman Academy Secretary
Monica Acuna, Winston Elementary, Paraeducator
Mamie Ciszek Hall, Bethune Academy, Nurse
Jannetta Dorsey, Eastside Elementary, Computer Lab Paraeducator
Alexandra Eve, Garden Grove Elementary, English for Speakers of Other Languages Paraeducator
Marielys Garcia, Sleepy Hill Elementary, English for Speakers of Other Languages Paraeducator
Linda Smith, Kingsford Elementary, Principal’s Secretary & Terminal Operator
School-Related Employee of the Year finalists received $500 from event sponsors, a commemorative plaque and flowers. School-related finalists will also be featured in a full page ad in The Ledger February 24, 2012.News