In Florida, we are fortunate to have some of the very best teachers, principals and parents supporting and guiding our state’s students on their academic journey. Before joining the Department of Education, I spent more than three decades in Florida schools, and I had the opportunity to work with some truly amazing individuals, many of whom were not categorized as educators or administrators.
From school crossing guards to cafeteria and janitorial personnel, there are thousands of school employees who play a key role in our children’s education without teaching a single classroom lesson. The work of all support personnel is absolutely critical to the success of our teachers and principals – and, most importantly, our students.
With no bus drivers, how would our students arrive at school ready to learn? With no food service staff, how would our students receive the nourishment they need to focus in class? How could we ensure the safety of our classrooms without maintenance workers? Luckily, these are all questions we do not have to answer.
To honor these unsung heroes, we coordinate the Florida School-Related Employee of the Year Program. The program recognizes outstanding education support personnel for the significant contributions they make to their schools and district school systems.
Last week, I had the privilege of naming Cheryl A. Thomas, a relief bus driver and training assistant in Pinellas County, the statewide 2015 School-Related Employee of the Year. Pinellas Superintendent Michael Grego noted that Cheryl is known for going above and beyond her assigned responsibilities to serve the Pinellas County students and schools.
Congratulations, Cheryl, and thank you to all of our state’s school-related employees for all that you do for Florida’s students!