Jennie Cyran, a math teacher at Horizons Elementary in Davenport, was announced as the 2019 Polk County Teacher of the Year on Tuesday night.
Cynthia Wimberley, a cafeteria manager at Sandhill Elementary in Haines City, is the district’s 2019 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 Tuesday night. The two overall winners, along with 12 finalists, received cash awards and other prizes from event sponsors.
Ms. Cyran and Ms. Wimberley were chosen from more than 200 candidates who were nominated by individual schools throughout Polk County Public Schools.
Judges include 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.
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.
Jennie Cyran — 2019 Polk County Teacher of the Year award winner profile:
Ms. Cyran believes successful teachers are those who take the time to build trust and cooperative relationships with students and their families. She considers the classroom to be a student’s “second home,” where they can be free of judgment and embrace their mistakes as great learning opportunities. She often visits students’ homes so she can offer parents resources to help their children. Even while battling cancer, she continues to put in extra effort and spends time on Saturdays tutoring students. Ms. Cyran enjoys mentoring new teachers so they don’t feel overwhelmed. She also mentors female students through the Girls of Integrity program, which aims to help girls be strong academically, socially and behaviorally. Along with her fellow teachers, Ms. Cyran established the National Elementary Honor Society at Horizons Elementary. She also volunteers as a Special Olympics coach, mentor and unified partner for several sports.
Cynthia Wimberley — 2019 Polk County School-Related Employee of the Year award winner profile:
As a cafeteria manager, Ms. Wimberley does more than keep a spotless kitchen and cafeteria, and serve tasty food to Sandhill Elementary’s students. Her desire to see all students succeed inspired her to create a new program. She meets with students who are struggling to develop behavior plans, and speaks with the children daily, reminding them to behave well. Ms. Wimberley explains that if they keep up their good behavior, they will earn a reward — which could be anything from a huge Star Wars ship, to a remote-controlled race car or a Lego set. Another one of her special projects is to give fruit baskets to students as a reminder to eat healthy. The students love to win the fruit baskets, and administrators are happy to see them take healthy snacks home to share with their families.
Below you will find a list of the 2019 finalists:
* Jennie Cyran was chosen as the 2019 Polk County Teacher of the Year among the following teacher finalists:
– Amelia Hart, Rosabelle W. Blake Academy, social studies teacher
– Bryant Joyner, Union Academy, robotics teacher
– Anne Hopper, Ridge Technical College, English teacher
– Steven Jones, Lawton Chiles Middle Academy, creative writing teacher
– Betsy Reeves, Pinewood Elementary, art teacher
– Rebecca Harris, Lake Gibson Middle, social studies teacher
* Cynthia Wimberley was chosen as the 2019 Polk County School-Related Employee of the Year among the following finalists:
– Karla Benton, Southwest Elementary, school nurse
– Bobi Fussell, Jean O’Dell Learning Center, school nurse
– Kimberly Holbert, Jewett School of the Arts, school nurse
– Susan Lanier, Socrum Elementary, paraeducator
– Mamie Ciszek Hall, John Snively Elementary, school nurse
– Philip De La Cruz, Doris A. Sanders Learning Center, paraeducator