AVON PARK — Avon Park High School AVID Coordinator Dawn Henderson was named the Highlands County Teacher of the Year 2020 at the Summit Awards Thursday evening at Avon Park High School.

Lake Placid High School media paraprofessional Alesia Cheshire was named the Highlands County School-Related Employee of the Year 2019.

Henderson said, “I was in shock; I am really humbled and excited and thankful that I get to come here every single day and do something I love.”

Cheshire said, “I was very surprised; I am honored because I put in a lot of sweat and tears into our kids, and I think it is a great honor to be chosen. It is just amazing.”

The district’s prepared summary on Henderson’s qualities as an educator note that she has worked at APHS since beginning her career in 2004.

Principal Danielle Erwin said, “Dawn is the heart of Avon Park High. She opens doors and changes mind-sets for students under her watch. Five years ago, AVID was an initiative. Today it is our way of life.”

Former principal Tealy Williams adds, “Dawn is a gifted teacher and an incredible humanitarian.”

Former student Diana Eugenio shares, “Through Ms. Henderson’s encouragement, I was brave enough to share my story of trial and triumph, and she played a vital role in my story of success. I have never had a teacher impact my life the way she has.”

There is a long timeline from the local, regional, state and national level to the naming of the national teacher of the year, hence the 2020 designation for the Highlands County Teacher of the Year.

The district’s prepared summary of Cheshire’s qualities as a paraprofessional note that she has worked for the School Board for 23 years at Lake Placid High School.

Principal Kevin Tunning states, “Students gravitate to Alesia because she is always looking out for them and encouraging them to achieve their dreams. Her defining feature is her ability to find students who need an advocate. We have had many examples where students would not have graduated without Alesia’s encouragement.

“Her willingness to stand in the gap for them changes the trajectory of their lives. Her dedication to students is an example for everyone to applaud.”

English teacher Melissa Sohn adds, “Alesia goes above and beyond to make a positive impact. She helps develop students into lifelong learners by setting high standards – which they recognize and rise to meet.”

Henderson received $5,000 and Cheshire received $2,500, funded by Mid-Florida Credit Union, which is one of the signature sponsors along with Duke Energy and the district’s food suppliers.

Carla Ball, from Avon Elementary School, was recognized as the Principal of the Year.

Ilene Eshelman, from Sebring High School, was recognized as Assistant Principal of the Year.

The Highlands County Sheriff’s Office was recognized as the school district’s Business Partner of the Year 2019.

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