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

Polk County Public Schools Announces 2018 Teacher of the Year, School-Related Employee of the Year

February 21, 2018

Michelle Dinwiddie, a 10th-grade English teacher at Lake Gibson High in Lakeland, was announced as the 2018 Polk County Teacher of the year on Wednesday night.

Margie Foreman, a clinic nurse at James E. Stephens Elementary, is the district’s 2018 School-Related Employee of the Year.

Polk County Public Schools celebrated its top educators and employees during an awards ceremony at the RP Funding Center on Wednesday night. The two overall winners, along with 12 finalists, received cash awards and other prizes from event sponsors.

Ms. Dinwiddie and Ms. Foreman were chosen from more than 200 candidates who were nominated by individual schools throughout Polk County Public Schools.

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

Both winners will move on to compete for state titles.

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.

Michelle Dinwiddie — 2018 Polk County Teacher of the Year award winner profile:

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 Polk County School-Related Employee of the Year award winner profile:

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.

Below you will find a list of the 2018 finalists:

*Michelle Dinwiddie was chosen as the 2018 Polk County Teacher of the Year among the following teacher finalists:

-James Gallman Jr., Southwest Middle, English teacher

-Cheryce Harris, Shelley Boone Middle, music teacher

-Alissa Lee, Floral Avenue Elementary, first-grade teacher

-Elizabeth Hileman, Winter Haven High, health science education teacher

-Jason Bowman, Sleepy Hill Middle, civics and U.S. history teacher

-Marion Alvarez-Correa, Pinewood Elementary, fourth-grade teacher


* Margie Foreman was chosen as the 2018 Polk County School-Related Employee of the Year among the following finalists:

-Annette Sun, Southwest Elementary, terminal operator

-Vernell Gandy, Daniel Jenkins Academy of Technology, assistant school nutritionist

-Fadia Awad, Fred G. Garner Elementary, ESOL paraeducator

-Pamela Terry, Socrum Elementary, ESE paraeducator

-Patricia Plemmons, Lake Region High, ESE paraprofessional vocational trainer

-Irene Davila, Auburndale Central Elementary, ESOL paraeducator