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Today’s surprise patrol was a one-stop affair: Our latest finalists for the Teacher and School-Related Employee of the Year work at the same school!

Congratulations to our District 2 finalists:

  • Robynn Hamrick — Teacher of the Year finalist, kindergarten teacher, Davenport Elementary
  • Sandra Alls — School-Related Employee finalist, school nurse, Davenport Elementary

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.

Just one prize patrol is left 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 2

Robynn Hamrick — kindergarten teacher, Davenport Elementary, District 2 finalist for Teacher of the Year

Hamrick teaches kindergarten and serves as the kindergarten grade chair at Davenport Elementary, a role that involves supporting her fellow educators and making sure the appropriate curriculum is being taught.

Naturally, she also provides leadership and makes herself available as a mentor to her school’s kindergarten teachers.

“I believe that mentoring does help improve the overall school culture,” Hamrick says. “It builds trust between staff members and opportunities to better ourselves at our craft … working together is part of best practices to enhance student learning.”

Administrators at Davenport Elementary say Hamrick has “poured her heart and soul” into teaching the school’s young learners. She maintains an exciting and energetic classroom, and has a special talent for teaching children how to read and communicate.

Hamrick is regarded as a leader and innovator, but always keeps herself open to feedback and coaching to ultimately benefit her school.

Sandra Alls — school nurse, Davenport Elementary, District 2 finalist for School-Related Employee of the Year

Alls retired from an upper management healthcare position in 2015 and went to work as a school nurse when she saw a need in the community.

She started at Davenport Elementary as a substitute nurse last year, and said she was honored when she was invited to work full time. The students excitedly call out to Alls when they see her on campus, and often show their appreciation with drawings and handmade gifts.

Alls is known for helping staff whenever a student is in need, and Davenport Elementary has especially valued her expertise during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She is known as a devoted supporter of the school’s students and staff. Alls said it meant a lot to be chosen as Davenport Elementary’s School-Related Employee of the Year.

“It speaks loudly to me,” she says. “I know it is heartfelt.”

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