News-Sun photo by SAMANTHA GHOLAR 2013 School Related Employee of the Year James Brown takes in his recognition Monday evening from Superintendent Wally Cox and MidFlorida Credit Union representative Vanessa Hernandez.
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published: Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Avon Park takes top honors at Summit Awards
By SAMANTHA GHOLAR
SEBRING -- The Avon Park education community has two reasons to smile following the annual Highlands County Education Foundation's Summit Awards on Monday evening.
Jessica Thayer of Avon Park High School was named 2013 Teacher of the Year while Park Elementary's James Brown was named 2013 School-Related Employee of the Year.
Thayer is currently employed at Avon Park High School as the literacy curriculum resource teacher (LCRT) and has taught math and business at APHS previously.
Thayer has single-handedly designed a researched-backed plan that uses precise reading-focused lessons with a certified teacher on a weekly basis that has helped improve students scores substantially. Through this plan, Thayer has helped 63 percent of low-achieving students improve their FCAT scores in one year, consequently increasing APHS school grade from nine straight years of a "D'' to a "C" this past year.
APHS Principal Tealy Williams was beyond thrilled when Thayer's name was called as Teacher of the Year. Tealy had nothing but positive things to say about his instructor.
"Jessica is a compassionate, highly motivated, gifted educator whose selfless devotion to her students and our school warrant the highest recognition," APHS Principal Tealy Williams said.
A tearful and shocked Thayer was congratulated by numerous members of the Highlands County School district, friends, family and loved ones.
"It is quite amazing," Thayer said. "It's very humbling experience. There is a tremendous amount of talent in this community. We have people loving on our children everyday."
When asked if she expected to win the award Thayer replied, "Oh, heavens no!"
Brown has been working with the Highlands County School Board for 34 years and is currently employed at Park Elementary where he serves as plant operator. Brown has been working at Park for the past 16 years. The daily routine for Brown calls for the jack-of-all-trades to begin his work well before sunrise. Brown does everything from unload newspapers and unlocking the buildings to helping out in the cafeteria and setting up for special events at the school.
Brown's dedication to students throughout Highlands County are shown with his work through the Boys and Girls Club and other community endeavors.
"I was really surprised," Brown said after his win. "I had a lot of good competition up there on that stage with me. I'm very grateful."
Principal Brenda Longshore shared her thoughts about her long-time colleague.
"Jimmy is a caring, encouraging, multi-talented and dedicated employee. I find it difficult to acquire staff with his passion, ambition and drive," Longshore said.
Thirty-two Highlands County School District employees were recognized for their excellence in and out of the classrooms. These individuals were selected because of the difference they continue to make in the lives of students.
School Board Chairman Andy Tuck spoke to the audience briefly during the ceremony.
"There is no doubt in my mind that Highlands County has the best teachers, administrators and support staff in the state of Florida. You're all here because you are the best of the best," Tuck said.
Each of the 32 nominees received an engraved award along with a cash prize. Brown received a check for $2,500 for his win; Thayer received $5,000. Brown and Thayer will represent Highlands County in the regional awards ceremony.
Employee of the year (by: Veronica Hardy - 4/11/2013)
Hat's off to Mr. James Brown job well done, could'nt have happy to anyone better.
Good News (by: Blindman~ - 4/10/2013)
Congratulations Avon Park.
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