Meet Polk Public Schools’ teacher and employee of the year finalists | #teacher | #children | #kids

BARTOW – The finalists for Polk County Public Schools Teacher and School-Related Employee of the Year have been chosen and include several special education teachers and paraeducators, along with a school nurse and a school guardian.

“All of these finalists have demonstrated outstanding commitment to serving our students – especially during these difficult times,” Superintendent Frederick Heid said. “Every day, they go above and beyond their normal duties and responsibilities to make sure our students feel loved, respected and safe. They encourage students to work hard in order to reach their fullest potential. They inspire them to struggle through challenges and to never give up.”

Throughout October and November, Heid, School Board members, union officials and senior district staff went from school to school to surprise the finalists with a banners their schools can proudly display for the rest of the school year.

Major sponsors for the event include Lakeland Automall, which awards a car to the Teacher of the Year, and MIDFLORIDA Credit Union, which gives $650 prizes to finalists in both categories. The School-Related Employee of the Year receives $2,500, while the Teacher of the Year is given $5,000.

District 1  

District 1 Teacher of the Year Finalist Tracy Single (Photo courtesy Polk County Public Schools)

Tracy Single is the local education agency facilitator at Scott Lake Elementary in Lakeland, working with the parents and teachers of exceptional students to develop and implement individual education plans. She has devoted her entire 30-year teaching career to students with disabilities.

“Together, they create meaningful goals for students that build their academic, social and independent functioning skills,” district officials said in a press release.

But her work doesn’t stop at the classroom door.

Several years ago, Single organized her school’s first Special Olympics event, with fifth-graders applying to volunteer as helpers.

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