PCPS Announces District 5 Finalists for Teacher and School-Related Employee of the Year
Posted on 09/22/2023
Headshot photo of District 5 finalists, TOY - Kara Holt and SRE - Debra Glisson

Fridays are for finalists! Congratulations to our District 5 finalists for the 2023-24 Polk County Teacher and School-Related Employee of the Year:

– Kara Holt, Teacher of the Year finalist, ESE facilitator, Sleepy Hill Middle

– Debra Glisson, School-Related Employee of the Year finalist, media paraeducator, Griffin Elementary

Brief profiles of these two finalists can be found below.

PCPS is recognizing finalists from all seven districts, and the overall winners will be announced at the Inspire Awards on Nov. 9 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 Platinum sponsor MIDFLORIDA Credit Union.

Finalist profiles:

Kara Holt, Sleepy Hill Middle, TOY

Kara Holt is a proud Polk County native and PCPS graduate. She works as an ESE facilitator and says she can relate to students with special needs, because she is visually impaired and dyslexic.

Holt contributes to a lot of events and activities at Sleepy Hill Middle. She introduced a mentoring program called Check and Connect that helps keep at-risk students on track. Holt said that middle school students can sometimes get a bad rap for their behavior, but she notes that students at Sleepy Hill often display incredible kindness to their peers with special needs. Administrators say Holt is “the epitome of a selfless educator,” who works tirelessly with students to meet their needs and reach their academic goals. She is a positive force in shaping the culture at Sleepy Hill.

Photo of Kara Holt being surprised

Group photo with Kara Holt along with school staff, district staff and representatives

Debra Glisson, Griffin Elementary, SRE

As a media paraeducator, Debra Glisson strives to develop a culture of reading at her school, and motivate students to excel. She started an incentive program that challenges and rewards students for tackling books that are beyond their current reading level. She also spearheaded the transformation of Griffin Elementary’s media center, to make it a more inviting and engaging place for students.

Glisson said she strives to create learning environments that give all students a chance to succeed. She works with other staff to make sure that students are provided with books that reinforce academic standards. Griffin administrators say that Glisson serves the entire school community with grace and kindness, and fills the media center with “sunshine.”

Photo of Debra Glisson being surprised

Group photo of Debra Glisson with school staff, district staff and representatives

Category: For Schools,News