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District Announces Principal, Assistant Principal, Teacher, and School-Related Employee of the Year

Posted on 1/31/2023 

The School District of Palm Beach County, along with the Education Foundation of Palm Beach County, honors the 2023 Principal, Assistant Principal, Teacher, and School-Related Employee of the Year during the second-annual Celebrate the Great awards ceremony. Congratulations to this year’s winners: 

● Principal of the Year – Dwayne Dennard, Pahokee Middle-Senior High School 

● Assistant Principal of the Year – Caelethia Taylor, Lake Worth Community High School

● Teacher of the Year – Joselyn Leon, Belle Glade Elementary School

● School-Related Employee of the Year – Kathy Suarez, Village Academy 

Winners were announced during an outdoor awards ceremony on January 31, 2023 at the Cox Science Center and Aquarium. The winners will represent the District as they go on to compete at the state level as part of the Florida Department of Education recognition programs.

“Education is a team sport, and this selection of finalists are a group that any District would be happy to have on their team” Superintendent Michael J. Burke said. “We are your best choice, only because of our employees.”

“After all the noise, all that’s left is a teacher, a student, and a connection,” said James Gavrilos, President and CEO of the Education Foundation of Palm Beach County. “This night is about you. We call it Celebrate the Great. You, 16 nominees, are the greatest of the great.”

Principal of the Year –  Dwayne Dennard 

Principal of the Year_Dwayne DennardMr. Dennard has a vision for Pahokee Middle-Senior High School, to see the campus as an incomparable school dedicated to preparing all students to be socially accountable lifelong learners who are primed for college and career in a globally competitive world. Through his leadership, his school provides multiple opportunities for all of their students to engage in high-quality learning experiences, in addition to receiving the guidance they need to pursue their college and career goals. Learn more about Mr. Dennard in this video.

“Every day that we’re on the job, we’re here as an educator, a motivator, and we have to be a positive role model for every single one of our students.”

Assistant Principal of the Year – Caelethia Taylor 

Assistant Principal of the Year_Caelethia TaylorWhen Ms. Taylor was hired as an Assistant Principal at Lake Worth Community High School in 2013, the highest graduation rate achieved at the school was 74%. She spearheaded the start of a new culture that involved all stakeholders in the community in achieving the goal of maximum student graduation. She expanded the school's reach through community partnerships with a local Haitian radio station, the Lake Worth Mayor's Education Task Force, and other local resource agencies to unite efforts in decreasing the number of at-risk student dropouts. As a result, the Class of 2022 at Lake Worth High became the first class to achieve a 90% graduation rate. Learn more about Ms. Taylor in this video.

“The accolades are just the bonus, but I think the real reward comes from the daily growth that I see in teachers and students. I think that’s the biggest reward.” 

Teacher of the Year – Joselyn Leon 

Teacher of the Year_Joselyn LeonFor Ms. Leon, her students at Belle Glade Elementary School are her biggest inspiration. Before becoming a teacher, she knew that working with kids was something she loved to do. She prayed about what would be the best way to dive into this passion she had for working with children, and teaching was the answer to her prayers. She is known as an in-depth planner because every decision, activity, and detail brings her back to who she does everything for, her students. Learn more about Ms. Leon in this video.

“I am one of those people who's lucky enough to say that they love what they do, so what I do doesn't feel like work. It's a way to impact the world through working with children.” 

School-Related Employee of the Year – Kathy Suarez 

School Related Employee of the Year_Kathy SuarezMs. Suarez is inspired by her community, and she demonstrates the true passion needed to deliver real results to Village Academy and community at large. On a daily basis, she works with families who rely on a variety of County resources. She is not content to simply give families a mere handout or encouraging word. More than anything, she wants the families at her school to have control over their lives and be able to meet their familial obligations. That commitment and dedication drives Ms. Suarez to devote many hours to her job, beyond her standard work schedule. Learn more about Ms. Suarez in this video

“I believe in hard work and I believe in giving my employer my best work.” 

Check out the video playlist and get to know all of the Celebrate the Great nominees.

The 2023 Celebrate the Great is presented through a collaboration between the School District of Palm Beach County and the Education Foundation of Palm Beach County to recognize top educational leaders with the support of presenting sponsor UnitedHealthcare, along with other event sponsors and community partners: C. Kenneth & Laura Baxter Foundation, Office Depot, Airport Hilton, The Breakers, Grand Canyon University, iThink Financial, Keiser University, Lion Country Safari, PNC Bank, Rapids Water Park, Red Apple Supplies, and Tickets at Work.