By Jessica Creagan
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- Last week, two of Citrus Elementary School's excellent faculty and staff were recognized in a big way.
Both the 2015 Indian River County Teacher of the Year and the 2014 School-Related Employee of the Year call Citrus Elementary School their workplace and on Jan. 29, friends and family cheered as the hard work and dedication of two individuals was honored by the school district.
Second-grade teacher Lyndsey Matheny and Lori Nelson, a teacher assistant were celebrated with air horns, confetti and, much to the surprise of the winners, giant checks made out in their names.
MidFlorida Credit Union, the event sponsor, presented a $5,000 check to Ms. Matheny and a $2,500 check to Ms. Nelson, said Cheryl Conley, school district coordinator of professional development and a former Indian River County school district and state Teacher of the Year.
"This is the first time we have had this happen," Ms. Conley said.
"I only knew about it two days before the gala and no one knew until I announced it that night," she said.
As a former Teacher of the Year winner, Ms. Conley said she was sure there were a lot of things going through the winners minds when their names were announced.
"I'm sure they were surprised and shocked and probably a little excited and proud," Ms. Conley said.
"Citrus Elementary was overwhelmed. When the names were announced, the whole back of the room leapt to their feet," she said.
The other finalists were also celebrated at the gala, including Jessica Geary, pre-kindergarten autism spectrum disorders teacher at Dodgertown Elementary School; Michelle Isaacson, third-grade teacher at Highlands Elementary School; Katy Bartolini, kindergarten teacher at Sebastian Elementary School; Caitlin Freedman, kindergarten and first grade teacher at Vero Beach Elementary School; Tarsha Jenkins, secretary at Dodgertown Elementary School; Nicholas Melchiori, education technology specialist at Glendale Elementary School; Liz Gioffre, administrative assistant at Highlands Elementary School and Wendy Gardiner, employee benefits and risk management specialist at the J.A. Thompson Administrative Center.
For more information about the Indian River County school district, visit www.indianriverschools.org.