School District Awards
PRINCIPAL OF THE YEAR – DENISE SANTIAGO
Denise Santiago has been named Monroe County School District’s Principal of the Year. She gracefully spearheads initiatives at Horace O’Bryant School to promote a climate of positivity for all stakeholders in one of the toughest years for education. Her colleagues state she is like an educational ninja, swatting problems with solutions every day and has advice, an answer, or a solution to any problem that may arise. With pep in her step, she maintains a forward-thinking approach to utilizing data and focusing on achievement that creates an environment for continuous learning and reaching high goals. Mrs. Santiago embraces her role as the Buccaneer fearless leader. Her dedication to HOB spans nearly a lifetime and her tenacity, perseverance and deep connection to the school community are some of her greatest attributes.
ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL OF THE YEAR – NICOLE SMITH
Nicole Smith, from Horace O’Bryant School, is the Monroe County School District Assistant Principal of the Year. Her colleagues state she goes above and beyond to provide strong leadership, offer solutions and be a resource to students and staff. She has developed a very positive and visible rapport with the kids, is firm when needed and possesses a soft and compassionate heart. She provides feedback and guidance to all who ask for it with appreciation for ones strengths and suggestions for an alternative approach or perspective. As a resource to teachers and students, she has been instrumental in providing a smooth transition through all of the changes this year. In this challenging year, she has risen to the occasion to help the school year run successfully.
MANAGER OF THE YEAR – DOUG PRYOR
Doug Pryor has been selected as the Monroe County School District Manager of the Year for his integrity, professionalism and attention to details. As Facilities Planner he has a huge responsibility to manage cost, timelines, vendors, contracts, stakeholder’s needs and wants. He works across departments, with state regulators and outside contractors to build trusted and effective lines of communication. He has a commitment to look for collaborative solutions and utilizes his leadership skills to bring people together to problem solve. With Mr. Pryor at the helm, the district has completed many projects on budget and on time including Switlik School Renovation, the Maintenance and Transportations facility, Key West High School Backyard, Upper Keys Annex, Key Largo School Gym renovation and Transportation Internal Services Facility on Stock Island. He is the consummate professional and his leadership and management of these critical and highly visible projects has been flawless. Mr. Pryor is a tremendous asset to this school district and our community, and is very deserving of the recognition provided by this prestigious award.
COUNSELOR OF THE YEAR – TAMMY ORCUTT
The Monroe County School District Counselor of the Year is Mrs. Tammy Orcutt from Gerald Adams Elementary. Her colleagues refer to Tammy as a dynamic team player who approaches every task with a smile and a ton of energy. Her door is always open to support staff and students alike. During this time, she has provided social emotional learning lessons, read-alouds and taught preventive strategies and coping skills to students as they navigated this unprecedented time in their lives. She sends inspirational messages weekly to the staff and students and praises a job well done. This is our time to praise Tammy for her unconditional love for the staff and students at Gerald Adams, she is a true gem that makes a difference every day.
Congratulations to our Employees of the year for 2020-2021!
For more details about our Employees of the Year, click here: 2020-2021 MCSD School Based Teachers of the Year & 2020-2021 MCSD School Related Employees of the Year.
Monroe County School District's 2020 2021 Teacher of the Year: Ms. Monica Horsley
Plantation Key School (PKS) 4th grade teacher, Monica Horsley, is Monroe County School District’s (MCSD) Teacher of the Year (TOY), Superintendent Theresa Axford announced. Horsley was chosen from a talented pool of MCSD school level Teachers of the Year by a committee comprised of administrators, curriculum team members and former school level teachers of the year, for her outstanding contributions in the classroom, school, and community. Candidates are judged on instruction, data, school/community involvement, recommendation letters, as well as rigorous critique of a recorded lesson.
Superintendent Axford made the announcement in person with a surprise presentation in front of Horsley’s class of jubilant students. “The selection committee had a challenging time choosing from such an impressive and talented group of educators,” Axford stated. “Every school’s TOY representative excelled in the classroom and throughout their communities. However, it was Mrs. Horsley’s unique and inspirational teaching style, as well as her ability to create an authentic learning environment, full of love and mutual respect, for her students that earned her this prestigious honor.”
Horsley, an eight year veteran educator, is known for designing intriguing lesson plans and differentiating instruction to accommodate her students’ various academic and emotional needs. According to PKS principal Lisa Taylor, “Mrs. Horsley demonstrates the attributes of a master teacher every day in her classroom. She recognizes the importance of the balance between the academic and emotional needs of students. Her influence reaches much farther than a traditional classroom teacher. Her students want to learn, they thrive in her classroom, and they believe that they can achieve the high standards and expectations resulting in their success.”
These student relationships, along with her fervor and enthusiasm for PKS, has made Horsley a favorite among students, teachers, and staff alike. “Monica is an exceptional teacher with the “gift” of teaching,” commented PKS 5th grade teacher, Michele Houston. “In addition to her inspirational work in the classroom, she is also an inspiring and supportive colleague and dynamic leader at our school.”
Horsley has the ability to inspire and impact everyone she comes in contact with, both at school and in the community. Her colleagues site her exemplary work ethic, teamwork, and ability to lead by example as some of the many reasons that she is the perfect candidate for the Teacher of the Year distinction.
Horsley, who has been teaching at PKS since 2016, responded with tears of joy upon receiving the good news, stating that she was “honored to represent all of the outstanding teachers at PKS and throughout the Monroe County School district.” Horsley, a self-described “lifelong learner,” sites her appreciation for the process of learning, as well as her strong student relationships as her inspiration to continually cultivate a learning environment which meets the social, emotional, and academic needs of each individual student.
“My love of teaching comes from my love for my students,” Horsley said. “They inspire me to do better each and every day. I enjoy developing engaging lessons that encourage them to actively take part in their learning. However, my ultimate goal is to empower my students to realize their full potential and encourage them to foster a life-long passion for learning.”
In addition to her teaching duties, Horsley serves as a member of the PKS Building Level Planning Team, serves on the District Technology Support Guide Team, and spearheads a social media program that increases parent and community involvement. She also devotes her time to several community organizations, including serving as a Conch Scramble Charity Board Member. She and her husband live in Islamorada.
According to the Florida Department of Education, the Florida Teacher of the Year Program is designed “to honor and recognize excellence in teaching, support continued learning for all educators, and highlight the importance and impact of the profession.”
OVERALL SCHOOL RELATED EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR:
Carlos Polanco, Upper Keys Maintenance