In the spirit of the season, students and staff made a joyful noise filling the hallways and classrooms of St. Lucie Public Schools (SLPS) as the Education Foundation of St. Lucie County and SLPS administrators surprised the three finalists for School Related Employee of the Year on Friday. Juana Garcia (Mariposa Elementary), Dawn Parker (Dan McCarty Middle School), and Natasha Ramos (Oak Hammock K-8) will represent the District as this year’s finalists.
Superintendent E. Wayne Gent stated that he is inspired by the commitment to service and volunteerism that each finalist represents. “Our staff care deeply about our students and our community. They spend countless hours volunteering in their schools and in our community. Their actions speak volumes to their commitment,” said Gent.
Education Foundation President Thom Jones said, “This is one of my favorite days of the year because the Education Foundation exists to promote, encourage, and recognize excellence in public education.”
Honoring school related employees is a program that is supported by the Florida Department of Education in which outstanding education support personnel are recognized for the significant impact they make on their schools and district school systems. Locally, one individual will be selected to represent SLPS at state level during the Night of the Stars gala scheduled for February 18, 2017.
About the Finalists
Juana Garcia is the nominee from Mariposa Elementary. She is a paraprofessional for English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), and over the last four years her contributions to the school have proved to be far reaching. She provides support in the classroom, assists in the ESOL lab, works as a liaison with parents, serves as research support for ESOL data with the guidance team, and is committed to helping with school events to support parent involvement.
In addition to this, Garcia facilitates Mariposa’s evening adult English language classes for Hispanic and Haitian parents. According to Principal Logue, she has committed two evenings per week for the last year and a half to this program. He said, “Because of Juana’s commitment, our lab program for our parents has continued to grow. She provides the time, instruction, energy, and care to help our parents acquire the English language skills they desire.”
Dawn Parker represents Dan McCarty Middle School. She serves as the school’s executive secretary responsible for maintaining the administrative schedule of the school’s principal as well as organizing events and serving as an ambassador to parents and community members who visit the school.
As a 12-year St. Lucie Public Schools employee, Parker has been on Dan McCarty’s campus for most of those years. She is extremely involved in campus and community activities beyond her office responsibilities. She supports students as a mentor, step coach, and Kids at Hope Treasure Hunter. In the community, she actively pursues committee work in her church and volunteers at Matthews Café.
Natasha Ramos is the School Related Employee of the Year for Oak Hammock K-8. For more than nine years, Ramos has called Oak Hammock her school home serving first as an ESOL paraprofessional and currently as a school clerk. Her keen awareness of campus activities helps her manage the many responsibilities associated with supporting her principal, teachers, and administrative staff in order to maintain a smooth flow of communication, schedules, and activities such as honor roll ceremonies.
While Ramos makes certain the teachers at Oak Hammock are provided the attention they need, she also supports the next generation of teachers by facilitating the schedule for IRSC teacher interns who are observing classes and working on credentials to complete their education programs. She also extends herself beyond the school campus into the community as an organizer and leader for her church and Relay for Life.