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Last but certainly not least!

Polk County Public Schools revealed today the last two finalists for 2021 Teacher and School-Related Employee of the Year.

Over the last two weeks, roving surprise patrols traveled to campuses across Polk County to say thank you to each finalist for their commitment to students.

Today, the surprise patrol didn’t have to go far as both District 7 finalists work at the same school! We congratulate both of these dedicated ladies and appreciate their hard work serving our adult students:

  • Ana-Maria Galbis — school counselor, East Area Adult School
  • Allison Crutchfield — network manager, East Area Adult School

Brief profiles of these two finalists can be found below (see italics).

Please see the attached photo of Crutchfield taken during today’s surprise visit to East Area Adult. Galbis was not able to attend in person, but she was able to be present via video conference. Galbis’ headshot is also attached.

For profiles of our other finalists, click on the links below:

District 1

District 2

District 3

District 4

District 5

District 6

The overall winners will be announced during a special award ceremony in January.

This year, PCPS and the Polk Education Foundation have consulted with the Florida Department of Health in Polk County to develop a pandemic-safe version of the Teacher and School-Related Employee of the Year event. Click here for details.

The event will take place on Jan. 21 at 5:30 p.m. at the RP Funding Center’s Lake Hollingsworth Room.

The event will be attended by less than 100 people; the guest list includes nominees and their plus-ones, their principals, school board members, event sponsors, the superintendent and deputy superintendent.

During the evening, nominees will be recognized with video tributes and sponsored gifts. The Teacher of the Year and School-Related Employee of the Year will receive a cash prize generously donated by MIDFLORIDA Credit Union.

Event sponsors include: Aramark, Boswell & Dunlap, Florida Blue, LEGOLAND, MIDFLORIDA Credit Union, Mosaic, Publix Super Markets Charities, Tampa Electric Company, and the Polk Education Association.

Finalist Profiles, District 7

Ana-Maria Galbis — school counselor, East Area Adult School, District 7 finalist for Teacher of the Year

As a school counselor, Galbis meets with every student at East Area Adult and gives them hope for a brighter future.

These adult students often experience hardships and life-changing events that halted their education. Galbis helps them make decisions, meeting regularly to check their progress and encouraging them to reach their goals.

“I help them believe in themselves when they have lost hope,” she said. “So many come in not knowing how smart they actually are. I enjoy building students up and seeing how happy they are that someone believes in them. Sometimes, a person just wants to be heard and know that someone else is willing to assist with a calm and friendly spirit.”

Many East Area Adult students do not speak English as their first language, and Galbis, who is fluent in Spanish, is able to effectively communicate and help them feel more comfortable. She also shows students what resources are available to them, such as food, housing, job opportunities and mental health services.

In addition, Galbis was instrumental in preparing staff members for a transition to a new data reporting system when almost everything had been done by hand.

“She is the heart of our school,” said Danielle DeConcilio, assistant principal at East Area Adult. “Everything that she is, all of her drive, has helped us enroll more students and be a better work family.”

***

Allison Crutchfield — network manager, East Area Adult School, District 7 finalist for School-Related Employee of the Year

Although she’s relatively new to East Area Adult, Crutchfield is no stranger to education.

“I served as a classroom teacher in four elementary schools and as network manager in one elementary school in PCPS for 35 years, and loved every minute of my career,” she said. “I retired and thought life was great; however, after six months of retirement, I wanted to continue investing in the educational world.”

Crutchfield returned to PCPS, and began serving in volunteer, teacher and network manager positions. She joined East Area Adult about a year ago.

She immediately undertook the daunting task of updating the school’s entire stock of available technology, replacing aging computers and devices and preparing new ones for service. As a former teacher, she knows how to best set up technology in classrooms to suit the needs of teachers and students.

Danielle DeConcilio, assistant principal at East Area Adult, said she appreciates Crutchfield’s funny and hardworking personality. She is always ready to help rectify computer and software issues, and make sure teachers have what they need.

“Words will never do justice in describing such an amazing human being,” DeConcilio said.We are proud to call her our technology expert, our friend and our School-Related Employee of the Year.”

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