Another pair of surprise visits took place today, unveiling two more finalists for the 2022 Polk County Teacher and School-Related Employee of the Year.
In the coming weeks, Polk County Public Schools will continue to make surprise visits to the finalists from each of our seven districts. The overall winners will be announced during a special award ceremony and banquet in January.
Today, we recognized our finalists from District 5:
• Kailyn Reynolds-Keller — Teacher of the Year finalist, physical education (PE) teacher, R. Clem Churchwell Elementary in Lakeland
• Tiffany Berrien — School-Related Employee finalist, physical education (PE) paraeducator, Rochelle School of the Arts in Lakeland
Brief profiles of these two finalists can be found below (see italics). Photos from today’s surprise patrol can be found on our Facebook page.
More surprise patrols will be taking place next month as we travel around Polk County to recognize the finalists from each of the seven districts. The overall winners will be announced at the Inspire Awards, which will take place on Jan. 20, 2022, at 5:30 p.m. at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland.
The Polk Education Foundation and the district’s Department of Public Relations & Strategic Partnerships collaborate to present this annual event.
During the event, nominees will be recognized with video tributes and receive 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.
Platinum sponsors for the event include Lakeland Automall and MIDFLORIDA Credit Union.
Finalist Profiles, District 5
Kailyn Reynolds-Keller — PE teacher, R. Clem Churchwell Elementary, District 5 finalist for Teacher of the Year
As a PE teacher, Reynolds-Keller enjoys helping her students develop a clear understanding and appreciation for being physically active and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
“Much of my success is from building relationships with students when they first arrive, whether that’s in kindergarten, fifth grade or anywhere in between,” she said. “Through these relationships mutual respect is built, and they can come to PE class to have fun, be safe and learn.”
Reynolds-Keller takes pride in finding different opportunities and activities for her students. She encourages them to participate in special events like the Kids Heart Challenge. Over the past six years, Churchwell Elementary has raised more than $19,000 for the American Heart Association. Reynolds-Keller’s students also take part in the InnerAct Alliance Red Ribbon Run to help fight substance abuse. In addition, she invites the Tampa Bay Lightning’s street hockey team to conduct interactive lessons on campus.
“All of these events have had a positive impact on my students,” she said. “They are excited to learn new things associated with being physically active.”
Tiffany Berrien — PE paraeducator, Rochelle School of the Arts, District 5 finalist for School-Related Employee of the Year
Berrien has spent four years working with PCPS as a PE paraeducator at Rochelle School of the Arts, where she serves students from kindergarten to eighth grade.
She takes the effort and time to learn about her students and talk to them about their day. They listen to her and follow directions because they know she cares about them.
As a former collegiate and semi-pro basketball player, Berrien brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to her role as basketball coach for Rochelle’s boys and girls teams. Along with basketball instruction, she spends time tutoring students, helping them with their schoolwork and teaching them how to be good citizens. Her focus is to create a positive environment where students will work hard and strive for success.