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The surprise visits continued today as PCPS announced the District 6 finalists for Teacher and School-Related Employee of the Year.

Congratulations to:

– Debra Braden, Teacher of the Year finalist, art teacher, Snively Elementary

– Jared Lowe, School-Related Employee of the Year finalist, safety guardian, Eagle Lake Elementary

Brief profiles of these two finalists can be found below. Photos from today’s prize patrol are available on the PCPS Facebook page.

PCPS is recognizing 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 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:

Debra Braden, Snively Elementary, TOY

Officially, Braden is an art teacher, but school administrators say she’s also a cheerleader for all students. You can regularly find her taking photos and videos at school events to be shared online with the Snively community.

She’s an outstanding teacher as well. Her art students frequently win awards and have their work showcased in local exhibitions, and Braden also displays their art in Snively’s main hallway and lunchroom. Administrators say she has a gift for connecting with students and helping them discover their innate talents.

Braden makes every child know that their work is special; she is endlessly dedicated to her students. 

Jared Lowe, Eagle Lake Elementary, SRE

Lowe is a bright light at Eagle Lake Elementary, finding various ways to support a positive culture at the school. He makes a point to learn every child’s name and their interests, and sometimes spends extra time with students by walking laps with them during PE.

It’s no surprise that Lowe is very serious about safety. He visits classrooms to speak with students and staff about the importance of maintaining a secure campus. Whenever he has a concern about campus safety he address it directly with Eagle Lake’s administrators.

Lowe is also praised for his generosity and kindness. He once jumpstarted a parent’s car battery after they broke down in the parking lot, and he’s been known to console students when they have a tough day.

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