For Jennie Cyran, being the 2019 Polk County Public Schools Teacher of the Year means using her talent wherever students need it most.
That’s why, next week, Cyran will begin teaching at Griffin Elementary, one of three PCPS schools on a state-supervised turnaround plan.
“It was a very tough decision,” said Cyran, who has taught fourth- and fifth-grade math at Horizons Elementary in Davenport for the last three years.
“My heart is with my current students, but they know this is a good opportunity for me to help other kids in the county and to help them succeed in school.”
“We aren’t schools competing for grades. We are one district, and it’s our job to provide a high-quality education to all students. We need to share our ideas to help one another, and all our students, be successful.”
Cyran, a resident of Haines City, will go from living a short drive from work to commuting 35 minutes each way to Griffin. At her new school, she will work as a special education resource teacher for kindergarten through fifth grade. In that role, she will provide intensive, small-group instruction to students with learning disabilities.
“This is the first time since I’ve been principal that this position will be filled by a fully certified teacher,” said Griffin Principal Melissa Durrance.
“It’s a difficult position to fill. You have to be an expert in every standard for every grade level. It’s going to be amazing. This position directly supports the classroom teacher, who is charged with teaching grade level standards and providing remediation, but the classroom teacher can’t always remediate to the level that the student requires.”
Cyran holds certifications in ESE and K-6 education. She previously worked in ESE in another state before moving to Florida.
Cyran said her first objective at Griffin will be to build relationships with her new students, to understand their challenges and how she can best serve them.
Just as important will be building relationships with her new colleagues, who are already feeling very excited about the arrival of Cyran and another Horizons teacher, Amber Hipp, who will teach second grade.
“Today was the best day,” Durrance said on Friday, as Cyran and Hipp were moving into their new classrooms. “The staff is very inspired that a teacher with Mrs. Cyran’s experience will be working alongside them. Our staff is very tight-knit, and we have a lot of challenges facing us. We’ve taken to looking for rainbows in the sky for encouragement. We saw two rainbows today.”