It is sometimes said that teaching is an underrated profession. For nearly everyone, a teacher or mentor has had a profound impact on their lives. Whether their influence has pushed them further, inspired growth, changed their way of thought or frustrated them because of persistence and expectation, teachers remain in the minds of many throughout their life.
Choosing just one of hundreds is a daunting task and for the Polk County Education Foundation and Polk County Public Schools There are thousands of educators, advisors, assistants, coaches, custodians, cooks, drivers, planners and managers that influence lives every day. The Polk County Public Schools annual award to honor the best of the best is a momentous undertaking. In the 7 Polk County School Districts, 120 teachers and 120 school-related employees were nominated for the 2021 honors. Out of the 240 nominations, 44 judges investigated the criteria and selected their choice for the top nominations in each of the 7 districts.
Votes were tallied in secret and the final nominations were announced in December 2020. 12 finalists were selected as the best of the best of Polk County Schools for their continuing contributions to the education and development of the students and communities. It is with great honor that Lakeland Automall was asked to become a platinum sponsor along with MIDFLORIDA Credit Union.
On Thursday, January 21, 2021, an intimate ‘pandemic-safe’ event was held at the RP Funding Center to honor all nominees and announce the winners of the Polk County Public Schools Teacher & School-Related Employee of the Year 2021. The nominees were all announced with a short video bio about their involvement with their school, students and coworkers; including statements of encouragement and gratitude for their individual contributions to their school, students and community. Every nominee received a bouquet of roses and a plaque commemorating their nomination along with prize packages that included gifts from all of the event sponsors.
The 2021 Teacher of the Year, Maude Graham and Employee of the Year Lisa Gill were announced after an extended description of their contributions to the district were announced. Standing ovations were applauded as both winners took the stage to accept their award and additional gifts donated by sponsors. A crystal award, jewel studded rings and Cash prizes provided by MIDFLORIDA Credit Union and other sponsors ware presented. A special presentation by Lakeland Automall CFO Cory Neupauer was awarded to Teacher of the Year Maude Graham of a Hyundai Elantra.
This is the first year that Lakeland Automall has participated with the Polk County Schools Teacher & School-Related Employee Awards. Lakeland Automall has been an annual sponsor to The Ledger Silver Garland Awards honoring the best in high school student achievement and is honored to now be part of honoring the teachers and staff who help to make their success possible. It is an honor to help encourage and contribute to the students and educators that drive our economy and careers for the future of Polk County. These great accomplishments are a testament to the ongoing commitment of our community and continued support to make all of our lives better and we thank everyone who has helped to make this happen.
The entire award presentation including the bios and acceptance speeches are available online at the Polk County Schools YouTube channel here:
Additional information can be found at Polk County Public Schools Website:
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