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The PCPS surprise patrol hit the road again yesterday to announce our District 2 finalists for the 2022-23 Polk County Teacher and School-Related Employee of the Year. Congratulations to:

– Cathy Montero, Teacher of the Year finalist, chorus instructor, Dundee Ridge Middle Academy

– Silvia Tellado, School-Related Employee of the Year finalist, ESOL paraeducator, Sandhill Elementary

Brief profiles of these two finalists can be found below. Please see our website for photos: https://tinyurl.com/y8ryjdwc

PCPS will recognize finalists from all seven districts, and the overall winners will be announced at the Inspire Awards on Dec. 7 at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland. The Polk Education Foundation and PCPS’ Department of Public Relations & Strategic Partnerships collaborate to present this annual event.

During the event, finalists 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. Gold event sponsors include: Aramark, Boswell & Dunlap, BlueCross BlueShield of Florida, Mosaic, Tampa Electric Company, Publix Super Markets Charities, Orlando Health, and Legoland Florida Resort.

Finalist profiles:

Cathy Montero, Dundee Ridge Middle Academy, TOY

Montero is regarded as a great communicator with a bubbly personality. She keeps parents informed about their students’ progress and encourages them to participate in school activities. Montero also provides guidance to new teachers, making herself available to hear their concerns as they navigate the challenges of the education world.

Montero stays active in professional organizations and has served as a presenter to share her classroom strategies with other educators. She also leads workshops that teach students new and innovative ways to grow as leaders.

Outside of the classroom, Montero works to build relationships with various organizations in an effort to increase community support for Dundee Ridge Middle.

Silvia Tellado, Sandhill Elementary, SRE

According to school administrators, Tellado stands out for her “loving, caring and nurturing soul.”

When schools closed during the COVID pandemic in March 2020, she served as a vital resource to Sandhill’s Spanish-speaking families, keeping parents informed and teaching students online. She also went the extra mile by delivering school supplies and groceries to families in need.

At school, Tellado often works with students in small groups, taking the time to build relationships as a way to understand their learning habits and improve their self-confidence. Colleagues describe her as hardworking and humble.

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