Congratulations to Michelle Dinwiddie, Teacher of the Year and Margie Foreman, School-Related Employee of the Years

The 2018 awards program honored over 230 outstanding employees from across the district.

Michelle Dinwiddie, a 10th-grade English teacher at Lake Gibson High in Lakeland, was named the 2018 Polk County Teacher of the Year and Margie Foreman, a clinic nurse at James E. Stephens Elementary, was named the district’s School-Related Employee of the Year. Along with 12 finalists, the winners received cash awards and other prizes from event sponsors.

Judges included community members from local organizations and businesses, as well as past winners and finalists. Judges reviewed the applications without knowledge of applicant names or schools. Judging criteria included leadership and professional development activities, community and school involvement, and teaching style.

Each year, the Florida Department of Education names a Florida Teacher of the Year, choosing an educator who has “demonstrated a superior capacity to inspire a love of learning in students of all backgrounds and abilities.” The Florida School-Related Employee of the Year award recognizes outstanding education support personnel for contributions to their schools and communities. Both of Polk's winners will move on to compete for the state titles.

Michelle Dinwiddie — 2018 Teacher of the Year

Ms. Dinwiddie sets a tone in her classroom that promotes openness and fearlessness. Students feel comfortable taking risks and learning from their mistakes. Her classroom at Lake Gibson High is filled with white boards that serve as blank canvases for students to express their ideas while working together to learn.

Serving as a role model, Ms. Dinwiddie stresses that each student “Be a Pro” — professional, productive and proficient. She encourages students to display good character and leave her classroom knowing that a tucked-in shirt, a kind word, a diligent heart and a capable attitude can take them further than they imagine.

Margie Foreman — 2018 School-Related Employee of the Year

As a clinic nurse, Ms. Foreman compassionately attends to all of the bumps and bruises, as well as tummy aches and loose teeth at James E. Stephens Elementary. She also takes care of hungry tummies by overseeing a program that sends backpacks full of food home with needy students so they can have something to eat at home. In addition, she helps maintain the school’s clothing closet to ensure students have a nice, clean wardrobe.

Previous Teacher of the Year Award Winners »

Previous School-Related Employee of the Year Award Winners »

2018 Honorees

Honoree Videos:

View video tributes to each of this year's honorees. Videos are compiled by district and can viewed in the 2018 Teacher & School Related Employee of the Year YouTube Playlist.

(A list of nominees is available in each video's decription.)


Teachers of the Year Poster (PDF)

School-Related Employees of the Year Poster (PDF)

Platinum Sponsors:

  • Ledger Media Group
  • MIDFLORIDA Credit Union
  • Regal Automotive

Gold Sponsors:

  • Boswell & Dunlap LLP
  • Florida Blue
  • Legoland Florida Resort
  • Mosaic
  • Publix Super Markets Charities
  • TECO

Silver Sponsors

  • Achieve 3000
  • AXA Advisors
  • Ben Hill Griffin Inc.
  • Duke Energy
  • Florida Southern College
  • Horace Mann/Langford Insurance
  • Huntington Learning Center
  • Lakeland Magic
  • Polk Education Association
  • Polk State College
  • Southeastern University
  • Suncoast Credit Union


  • Projectors provided by Smiley’s Audio Visual, Inc.
  • Men’s wardrobe provided by Men’s Wearhouse, North Lakeland
  • Women’s wardrobe provided by Joeanne Hall’s Apparel

Thank you to these partners for providing gifts to this year's winners!

  • Florida Southern College
  • Herff Jones
  • Horace Mann/Langford Insurance
  • Lakeland Magic
  • Ledger Media Group
  • Merlin Entertainment
  • MIDFLORIDA Credit Union
  • Regal Automotive
  • RP Funding
  • Southeastern University
  • Walt Disney World

Teachers of the Year are listed first followed by
School-Related Employees of the Year


Alturas Elementary: Jason Howell; Senia Winn


Auburndale Central Elementary: Ingrid Stewart; Irene Flores Davila
Auburndale Senior High: Michele Fetter; David Lugo
Clarence Boswell Elementary: Sandra Turner; Pam Tullis
East Area Adult: Brooksie Smith; Manami Naito
Jere L. Stambaugh Middle: Lydia Taylor; LeeAnn Lanier
Lena Vista Elementary: Tonya Kipe; Margarita Hernandez
Walter Caldwell Elementary: Jennifer Roberts; Lindsey Letchworth


Bartow Elementary Academy: Joseph Hammerberg; Pam Wyant
Bartow Middle: Sean McCall; Melissa Giles
Bartow Senior / IB / Summerlin: Teresa Mount; Kathryn Maeda
Floral Avenue Elementary: Alissa Lee; Amanda Freeman
Gause Academy of Leadership: Dorothea Thomas; Rebecca Keener
Gibbons Street Elementary: Alexah Newton; Denise Taylor
James E. Stephens Elementary: Tammy Smith; Margie Foreman
Jean O'Dell Learning Center: Samantha Avigliano; Megan Stinson
R.E.A.L. Academy: Adrienne Frazier;
Spessard L Holland Elementary: Erin Rodgers; Esther Marsh
Union Academy: Nyleen Rodriguez-Iglesias; Kathi Spence


Citrus Ridge: A Civics Academy: Emily Retzlaff; Melissa Arwood
Davenport School of the Arts: Deven Deans; Aimee Thomas
Horizons Elementary: Jennifer Whelan; Tracy Braisted
Loughman Oaks Elementary: Yulibette Melendez Pena; Sandy DeRosa
Ridge Community High: Isaac Baumer; Nerida Wilson


Donald E Woods Opportunity Center: Paula Chapple; Brenda Silvera
Dundee Elementary Academy: Monica Crosthwaite; Nancy Brown
Dundee Ridge Middle Academy: Erik Berglund; Margaret Forston

Eagle Lake

Eagle Lake Elementary: Kathryn Hileman; Kimberly Norman
Lake Region High: Elizabeth White; Patricia Plemmons
Pinewood Elementary: Marion Alvarez-Correa; Lynn Collins

Fort Meade

Fort Meade Middle/Senior High: Miriam Nickerson; Susan Tenney
Lewis Anna Woodbury Elementary: Cynthia Marotti; Yajaira Baez
Lewis Elementary PK-3: Amy Gargus; Wilbur Wiley


Ben Hill Griffin Jr. Elementary: Ayla Boscarino-Cruz; Elaine Roland
Frostproof Elementary: Ashley Avery; Graciela Aguilar
Frostproof Middle/Senior High: Arlette Schulze-Lock; Karrie Cothron

Haines City

Alta Vista Elementary: Heather Powers; Vicky Webster
Bethune Academy: Lauren Keen; Tanya Ramirez
Daniel Jenkins Academy of Technology: Patricia Irene Walker; Vernell Gandy
Eastside Elementary: Mary Ann Ensley; Wrenita Brundidge
Haines City Senior / Haines City IB: Melissa Bozeman; Jo Lynn Willoughby
Sandhill Elementary: Jaxon Chapman; Banny Banos
Shelley S. Boone Middle: Cheryce Harris; Maria Fajardo

Highland City

Highland City Elementary: Emily Glover; Alexis Zellner

Lake Alfred

Karen M. Siegel Academy: Sharron Mason; Ryan Wilson
Lake Alfred Elementary: Karen Smith-Addison; Mariam Gotay
Lake Alfred Polytech Academy: Victoria Paine; Tiffany Davis

Lake Wales

McLaughlin Middle & Fine Arts Academy: Heather Martin; Tamela Farrow
Roosevelt Academy: Daniel Sharpless; Peggy Hallett
Spook Hill Elementary: Robert Highley; Jessica Clancy


Bill Duncan Opportunity Center: Geraldine Pender; Randi Jantz
Carlton Palmore Elementary: Pamela Grant; Anadina Mota-Hughes
Cleveland Court Elementary: Debra Pion; Garry Lingle
Combee Academy of Design and Engineering: Hillary Supple; Sharon Gursky
Crystal Lake Elementary: Melissa White; Anna-Kay Remekie
Crystal Lake Middle: Yesenia Cruz Rosado; Hannah Collins
Dixieland Elementary: Maria Lindquist; Karen Green
Doris A. Sanders Learning Center: John Edwards; Angeleta Hazzard
Dr. NE Roberts Elementary: Gioia Harrell; Javier Altamirano
Edgar L. Padgett Elementary: Latoria Williams; Eric Roberts
George W. Jenkins Senior High: Kelly Benton; Janet Robinson
Griffin Elementary: Teresa Gilliam; Pamela Miller
Harrison School for the Arts: William (Bill) Kimble; Lisa Leland
Highlands Grove Elementary: Jessica Sherotski; Angela Waterfield
James W. Sikes Elementary: Sharon Parks; Tami Reynolds
Jesse Keen Elementary: Robin Collins; Erica Torres
Kathleen Elementary: Vicky Morgan; Tara Browning
Kathleen Middle: Matthew Huro; Angela Thomas
Kathleen Senior High: Donna Cole; Michele Donnelly
Lake Gibson Middle: Stephanie Syrakis; Pamela Noles
Lake Gibson Senior High: Michelle Dinwiddie; Darnel Landy
Lakeland Highlands Middle: Barbara Fisher; Linda Pittman
Lakeland Senior High: Lisa Woods; Penny Campbell
Lawton Chiles Middle Academy: Margaret Thomas; Maria Santiago Ayala
Lincoln Avenue Academy: Matthew Kincade; Robert Townes
Medulla Elementary: Jennifer Coleman; Madeline Lopez
North Lakeland Elementary School of Choice: Adrienne Ford; Lisa Whitley
Oscar J. Pope Elementary: Felisha Cassen; Beatriz Cruz
Philip O'Brien Elementary: Lori Cross; Migdarilys Luna
R. Bruce Wagner Elementary: Sophie Thompson; Pamela Stone
R. Clem Churchwell Elementary: Dove Reynolds; Joanne Pirson
Rochelle School Of The Arts: Barbara Homan; Mary Werner
Rosabelle W. Blake Academy: Brittani Beardsley; Yatoshia Tucker
Scott Lake Elementary: Jessica Bailey; Diane Coker
Sleepy Hill Elementary: Bobbi Kelley; Julie Whiteley
Sleepy Hill Middle: Jason Bowman; Elizabeth Saez Boscana
Socrum Elementary: Kayla Hamblen; Pamela Terry
Southwest Elementary: Brenda Mathewson; Annette Sun
Southwest Middle: James Gallman, Jr.; Andrea Williams
Tenoroc High: Eric Collins; Tracie Johnson
Traviss Technical College: Randy Murphy; Phyllis Baxla
Valleyview Elementary: Nikki McConnell; Cynthia Waller
Wendell Watson Elementary: Mallory Williamson; Magaly Colon-Rolon
West Area Adult: Aimee Holzer; Suzanne Ward
Winston Academy of Engineering: Amanda Pope; Alberto Torres-Martinez


Kingsford Elementary: Christin Judy; Beverly Lane
Mulberry Middle: Jennifer Hudson; Kasandra Glover
Mulberry Senior High: Leslie Wright; Terry Shaw
Purcell Elementary: Deborah M. Brown; Tim Woodham


Lake Marion Creek Middle: Andres Mercado Ocasio; Myriam Valles
Laurel Elementary: Jason Williams; Jacqueline Ramirez Baez
Palmetto Elementary: Melissa Rivera; Carlos Torres

Polk City

Polk City Elementary: Teresa Hagan; Andrea Smith

Winter Haven

Chain Of Lakes Elementary: Natalie Holland; Willie Morris
Denison Middle: Matthew Gillette; Sherice Hadley
Elbert Elementary: Charlene Wright-Kirkland; Gregory McCray
Frank E. Brigham Academy: Krishna Youngs; Thomas Johnson
Fred G. Garner Elementary: Gail Postell; Fadia Awad
Garden Grove Elementary: Rodolfo Reyes; Paola Mello
Inwood Elementary: Randall Olvera; Cheryl Beloncik
Jewett Middle Academy Magnet: Delphine Kendrick; Jill Dumont
Jewett School of the Arts: Margit Turner; Melinda Thornhill
John Snively Elementary: Veita Stephens; Amanda Dahlquist
Lake Shipp Elementary: Likisha Bradwell; Angela Harrison
Ridge Technical College: Anne Hopper; Terry Jayroe
Wahneta Elementary: Shannah Acevedo; Christina Sudduth
Westwood Middle: Patricia Bay; Rachelle Jones
Winter Haven Senior High: Elizabeth Hileman; Frances Woodside

2017 Teacher and School-Related Employee of the Year

Congratulations to Jessica Solano of Highlands Grove Elementary and Maria Gomez of Bartow High, 2016 Polk County Teacher and School-Related Employee of the Year.

More information about 2017 Honorees »