Four Palm Beach Atlantic University graduates are among the 25 finalists for the 2011 William T. Dwyer Awards for Excellence in Education, presented by the Economic Council of Palm Beach County and the Education Foundation of Palm Beach County.
Donna Lynn Zimmer ’96 is a finalist in the elementary education category; Crystal Varnadore ’93 and Kerie Hudson-Franco '00 are finalists in the middle school category; and Brian Kovachik ’97 is a finalist in the high school category.
Zimmer, who majored in elementary education with a concentration in early childhood at PBA, is a teacher at Elbridge Gale Elementary School in Wellington. She is a kindergarten teacher, and she has been teaching for more than 11 years.
Varnadore also majored in elementary education at PBA. She is a teacher at Roosevelt Middle School in West Palm Beach, and she currently serves on PBA’s School of Education and Behavioral Studies Advisory Board. She teaches math in grades six through eight and has been teaching for 16 years.
Hudson-Franco studied biology and secondary education at PBA, and she was named the outstanding graduate of the School of Arts and Sciences in 2000. She has taught for 11 years, 10 of them at Bak Middle School of the Arts in West Palm Beach. At Bak, she teaches life science and physical science, and she heads the school's science department. Hudson-Franco is gifted certified and also holds National Board Certification.
Kovachik majored in art education and now teaches ceramics and Advanced Placement 3-D studio design at Jupiter High School. He previously served as an adjunct professor in PBA’s Art Department.
Kovachik, who has taught at Jupiter High for 12 years, said he was honored to be nominated by his peers to represent the school. He said he never expected to be named a finalist. “I didn’t think it was real,” he said.
In addition to his work in the classroom, he also coaches the high school’s surf team. “All the honor is to God for giving me the gift of teaching,” he said.
The Dwyer Awards recognize outstanding achievement by teachers in Palm Beach County. The program is dedicated to rewarding teachers who have shown excellence in education, civic duty, leadership and business awareness.
The nominees, finalists and award recipients will be honored at a reception and ceremony on Wednesday, April 27, at the Kravis Center for Performing Arts in West Palm Beach.