Monday was a little brighter for two PCPS employees, as we made surprise visits to announce the District 5 finalists for Teacher and School-Related Employee of the year. Congratulations to: – Michael Dinwiddie, Teacher of the Year finalist, math teacher, Sleepy Hill Middle – Maria Negron, School-Related Employee of the Year finalist, ESOL paraeducator, Winston Academy of Engineering Brief profiles of these two finalists can be found below. PCPS is recognizing finalists from all seven districts, and the overall winners will be announced at the Inspire Awards on Dec. 7 at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland. The Polk Education Foundation and PCPS’ Department of Public Relations & Strategic Partnerships collaborate to present this annual event. During the event, finalists will be recognized with video tributes and receive sponsored gifts. The Teacher of the Year and School-Related Employee of the Year will receive a cash prize generously donated by MIDFLORIDA Credit Union. Platinum sponsors for the event include Lakeland Automall and MIDFLORIDA Credit Union. Gold sponsors include: Aramark, Boswell & Dunlap, BlueCross BlueShield of Florida, Mosaic, Tampa Electric Company, Publix Super Markets Charities, Orlando Health, and Legoland Florida Resort. Finalist profiles: Michael Dinwiddie, Sleepy Hill Middle, TOY Dinwiddie is an “empowering presence” on campus, where he is known for his strong work ethic and high expectations for students. He stresses the importance of academics but also works to build relationships with students, sometimes having lunch with them as a way to show he cares. Dinwiddie serves as a mentor to students and staff, and is known as a leader among Sleepy Hill’s teachers; administrators say he has been a constant source of knowledge and encouragement for his colleagues. He created and leads the Unity Group, which seeks to promote school spirit and engagement among Sleepy Hill’s faculty. He also has volunteered his time for school events and regularly steps up when he sees an issue that needs attention. Greatness must run in the Dinwiddie household: Michael’s wife, Michelle, was the 2018 Polk County Teacher of the Year. Maria Negron, Winston Academy of Engineering, SRE Negron is an experienced paraeducator who is “meticulous” in her work. She is well-liked by the Winston Academy staff and isn’t afraid to tackle any challenges that arise. Negron uses her language skills to serve as a translator for the school’s Spanish-speaking families. She is highly knowledge about ESOL programs and resources, and prioritizes the success of her students. In addition to her classroom duties, Negron participates in Winston Academy’s student mentoring program, and has sponsored an afterschool Spanish Club. She takes pride in encouraging students to try new things and get more involved in school.
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