Polk County Public Schools is proud to announce the district’s Hall of Fame inductees for 2019.
Each will be honored during an invitation-only ceremony on Friday, May 31 at Lake Ashton Country Club in Lake Wales beginning at 6:30 p.m.
The Hall of Fame began in 1985 to honor Polk County Public Schools attendees who have made significant professional contributions in the arts, business, clergy, education, entertainment, government, law, military, medicine, sports or other fields. Inductees are chosen each year from nominees submitted by the public.
For more information about the PCPS Hall of Fame, please visit this link.
2019 Inductee Profiles:
Winter Haven High, Class of ‘73
Perry Blocker is a retired Polk County Public Schools teacher. She began her teaching career in 1977 and taught at Walter Caldwell Elementary, Lake Alfred Elementary and Auburndale Central Elementary.
During her career, she led multiple reading programs and secured several grants that enabled her to provide opportunities for students to improve their reading skills.
She finished her career teaching reading at Westwood Middle in 2015. While at Westwood, she organized a beautification project so teachers and students would have an inviting space to read. Following her retirement, she worked as a substitute teacher for two years. She currently volunteers with AmeriCorps Polk Reads as a reading tutor at Garner Elementary. Always dedicated to community service, she also served with Volunteer Florida during Hurricane Irma, and volunteers with her church.
A member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority for 27 years, she has worked tirelessly to combat hunger and homelessness, provide for orphaned children, and gather school supplies and backpacks for needy children. She is also a guardian ad litem for the Florida Guardian ad Litem program, providing a voice to children in the 10th Circuit Court.
She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and her master’s degree in administration and supervision from Rollins College.
Lt. Col. Robert Eyman
Lakeland High, Class of ‘98
Lt. Col. Robert Eyman was the first student to win the Volunteer of the Year Award at Southwest Middle for his work with special needs students. Throughout his school years, he actively participated in community service, clubs, sports and academics.
His service to Teen Court earned him awards and scholarships, including the Glenda Templeton Award and the Silver Garland Award. He participated in National Honor Society, Spanish Club and the yearbook staff, and served in leadership roles for student government and the Leo Service Club. An avid water skier, he competed throughout high school and college.
After graduating from the University of Central Florida, he received a commission as an officer in the U.S. Army. He has been stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq. He served as an instructor at the U.S. Army Military Police School at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. He was promoted to the rank of major and attended the U.S. Naval War College before relocating to Hawaii to become the operations officer and eventually executive officer for the 8th Military Police Brigade.
At the completion of that assignment, he relocated to the Washington, D.C., area, where he served as a fellow with the U.S. Marshals Service before being assigned to the Pentagon, where he currently serves as chief of the Strategic Initiatives Group for the U.S. Army Provost Marshal General. He has received numerous awards and decorations, including three Bronze Stars, three Meritorious Service Medals, the Combat Action Badge, and Air Assault Badge.
In 2020, he will take command of the 525th Military Police Battalion in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Kathleen High, Class of ‘64
Ralph Frier is the executive director of Ridgeview Global Studies Academy. He has spent 51 years as an educator in Polk County.
He began his career in education as an English teacher at Kathleen Senior High, his alma mater. While there, he was named Teacher of the Year. He went on to become assistant principal at Seth McKeel Junior High, Lakeland Senior High and Lakeland Highlands Middle, while simultaneously working as an adjunct professor at Southeastern University.
He later became principal at Lakeland Highlands Middle, Loughman Oaks Elementary and Ridgeview Elementary. In 2001, he led the effort to convert Ridgeview into Ridgeview Global Studies Academy. Affectionately known as Papa Frier among his staff, his legacy will be ensuring that every student is taught a strong, multi-ethnic curriculum and embraces cultural diversity.
During his career, he has served on behalf of several civic organizations, including the Polk County Charter Schools Association, Faith in Action, Camp Fire board, Junior Achievement board, WCIE FM board, and the Berkley Charter School board. One of his most notable accomplishments was participating in the Fulbright Administrators Program in Japan.
He received his bachelor’s degree in English and Latin from the University of South Florida in 1968 and his master’s degree in library science from the University of South Florida in 1975.
Dr. Maxine Lavon Montgomery
Mulberry High, Class of ’77
Dr. Maxine Lavon Montgomery is a professor of English at Florida State University, where she teaches courses in American, African-American, and American multi-ethnic literature.
She is the first African-American to receive tenure and be promoted to full professor in Florida State’s English Department. She has taught at FSU since 1988, and is the recipient of five FSU awards for excellence in teaching.
As a nationally recognized scholar in the field of African-American and American literary and cultural studies, she is the author or editor of six books: “The Apocalypse in African-American Fiction,” “Conversations With Gloria Naylor,” “The Fiction of Gloria Naylor: Houses and Spaces of Resistance,” “Contested Boundaries: New Critical Essays on the Fiction of Toni Morrison,” “Conversations with Edwidge Danticat” and “Meditations on Race, Culture, and History: New Critical Essays on Toni Morrison’s God Help the Child.”
She earned her bachelor’s degree in English education from Florida State University in 1980, her master’s degree in English from Florida State University in 1982, and her doctorate in English from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign in 1986.
She has also published numerous articles on African-American and women’s literature. Her essays have appeared in scholarly journals, such as African American Review, College Language Association Journal, The South Carolina Review, The Journal of Black Studies and The Literary Griot.