Each year, the awards program honors approximately 240 outstanding employees from across the district.  Along with 12 finalists, the winners receive cash awards and other prizes from event sponsors.

Judges include community members from local organizations and businesses, as well as past winners and finalists. Judges review the applications without knowledge of applicant names or schools. Judging criteria includes leadership and professional development activities, community and school involvement, and teaching style.

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. Both of Polk’s winners move on to compete for the state titles.

 Dr. Vincent M. Miller II portrait photo

Dr. Vincent M. Miller II — 2020 Teacher of the Year

Dr. Miller is known for building positive relationships with students, their parents, and the community. He created a “clothes closet” where students can receive free clothing, shoes and hygiene products donated by local businesses. He founded Filling the Lane, a mentoring program that uses basketball to connect with youths, encourage them to stay in school and achieve their goals. He also helped launch a new student club to celebrate diversity among the student body, and give students from varying backgrounds a place to get to know one another. In the classroom, Dr. Miller designs his lessons around hands-on, real-life situations demonstrating how math is an integral part of everyone’s life. He also provides free tutoring after school. Dr. Miller believes teachers must be “lifelong learners” who are willing to discover new teaching practices so they can better reach their diverse students in an ever-changing world. “As our students evolve, our teaching needs to evolve,” he says.
Kay Llewellyn portrait photo

Kay Llewellyn— 2020 School-Related Employee of the Year

As a principal’s secretary, Llewellyn epitomizes servant leadership. In her 30 years at Dixieland Elementary, she has brightened the lives of countless students, employees and parents. She is the first to offer help to those in need, whether it’s by giving a hug and encouraging word, or by collecting blankets for the homeless. She believes in filling each student’s “emotional bucket” with love and affirmation so they can be ready to learn every day. She is always ready to help coordinate fundraisers, reading incentives, and awards programs. Llewellyn is more comfortable as a behind-the-scenes person, and will quietly organize donations to help whoever is in need.

Previous Winners