Teacher and Employee of the Year Named at Gala

Teacher and Employee of the Year Named at Gala
Posted on 02/03/2020
Stars of Year Graphic

Contact: Cristen Maddux
Telephone: 772-564-5527
Email  Cristen.Maddux@indianriverschools.org
Website www.indianriverschools.org


February 3, 2020

The School District Of Indian River County Names Their Teacher And Employee Of The Year At The Annual Stars Of The Year Gala

Vero Beach, FL, February 3, 2020- The School District of Indian River County (SDIRC) held their annual “Stars of the Year” Gala on Monday, January 27, at the Sebastian River High School Performing Arts Center.

At the conclusion of the program, our five Teacher of the Year finalists and five Employee of the Year finalists were brought up on stage, honored with bouquets and boutonnieres, and anxiously awaited the announcement of the winner of the 2021 Teacher and 2020 Employee of the Year. Superintendent Dr. Moore, and Board Chairman, Laura Zorc opened each envelope to announce the names of Diana O’Connor, Teacher of the Year from Beachland Elementary School, and Tiffany Langdon, Employee of the Year from Liberty Magnet Elementary School. Presenting Sponsors, MIDFLORIDA Credit Union’s Shrita Walker, Area Manager; Carrie Anderson, Local Branch Manager; and Veronica Stepanek, Assistant Branch Manager, took the stage to hand our Teacher of the Year winner a check for $5,000 and our Employee of the Year winner a check for $2,500.

“As the new superintendent, it has been remarkable to see so many teacher and employee recognition events in our district in the short time that I have been here,” said Dr. Moore. “Walking into the Sebastian River High School auditorium, feeling the incredible amount of energy and fun, and seeing hundreds of people there in support of our teachers and employees, was breathtaking. The School District of Indian River County is truly full of individuals who love and support each other, and the Stars of the Year Gala made that very apparent.”

School District of Indian River County Board Chairman, Laura Zorc, added, “Like previous years, I am always very impressed by all of our teachers and employees of the year. It must be a challenging decision for our committees to identify only one teacher and one employee to represent our District. All of our “Stars of the Year” were spectacular candidates, and we are very fortunate, as a school district, to have such a high caliber workforce.”

Diana O'Connor 2021 SDIRC Teacher of the Year

Diana O'Connor, 2021 SDIRC Teacher of the Year

As a Cum Laude Honors graduate from the University of Central Florida, Diana received a bachelor’s degree in Specific Learning Disabilities for Kindergarten through twelfth grade and became certified in elementary education for grades Kindergarten through sixth. As an ESOL endorsed educator and currently working towards her reading endorsement, she is continuously striving to increase her level of knowledge to provide the utmost support for all those I serve. Diana has worked as a first-grade general education teacher and is currently an Exceptional Student Education (ESE) support facilitator. As the ESE department chair, she works closely with general education teachers to plan standards-based instruction, differentiate lessons, and provide support facilitation in the classrooms to target individual needs of our students. In addition to her role in the classroom serving students and teachers, she is also a certified Crisis Prevention and Intervention (CPI) educator, a clinical educator, and an Indian River County Education Association member. Embracing the impact we can make in the community, Diana began a school-wide initiative for collecting pop tabs for the Ronald McDonald house and is also one of the lead representatives for her school team’s Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Pennies for Patients program. One of her proudest professional accomplishments is being a recipient of Vero Beach High School’s Pride of the Tribe Award in 2014. The award is designed to allow a graduating senior to recognize his/her most influential teacher. She was honored with this award by a senior whom she taught when the student was in first grade.

Diana O’Connor, Teacher of the Year, said, “I am extremely honored for being selected as the Teacher of the Year for the School District of Indian River County. I am grateful to be recognized and sincerely thank everyone that has made an impact on my teaching career, which has shaped me into the teacher I am today.”

Rachel Finnegan, Principal at Beachland Elementary School, added, “Diana O’Connor is a passionate educator who builds relationships with all stakeholders to provide connections for all her students. She instills the love and desire of learning, while educating the whole child. Mrs. O’Connor is an asset to our school team, and she is an exceptional educator.”

Tiffany Langdon SDIRC 2020 Employee of the Year

Tiffany Langdon 2020 SDIRC Employee of the Year

Tiffany Langdon is originally from Long Island, New York. She graduated from Oceanside High School and attended Nassau Community College. Tiffany worked as a travel agent for 15 years, planning dream vacations from African safaris to European tours, cruises, and beach destinations. As a travel agent, Tiffany was a part of The Presidential Club, which are the top performers for Liberty Travel, for six consecutive years. After relocating to Sebastian, Florida in 2013, Tiffany started her career at Liberty Magnet as a cafeteria monitor. An opportunity arose for an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Teacher Assistant in a classroom at Liberty Magnet, and Tiffany was hired for the job. Five years later, she is still serving in the ASD unit. Tiffany is CPR and First Aid certified and has been trained in Professional Crisis Management and Environmental Communications, and takes advantage of any classes and trainings offered by our school district, with "in school " American Sign Language being one of her favorites.

Employee of the Year, Tiffany Langdon, said, "I am honored, overwhelmed, and speechless (which I hardly ever am), by being named Employee of the Year for Indian River County. What one often takes for granted, we consider a major achievement - for instance - to hear a child utter a new sound, say a word, climb a ladder on the playground, or hold a crayon for the first time - it is hard to put into words how it makes me feel, but I just know that whether I'm climbing a bouncy water slide with them or teaching them how to write their name, it has made an impact on my life. Autism is about love and acceptance and working at Liberty Magnet in one of our ASD units is a true blessing. I love Liberty Magnet - the staff, the children, and the parents - we are truly a family.”

Takeisha Harris, Principal of Liberty Magnet Elementary School, added, “Tiffany is the perfect representative for our school and our district. Her commitment to her work with our children and in her community is admirable and should be recognized!”

The theme of this year’s Gala was, “Don’t Stop Believin,” and the festivities included an 80’s theme, and an audience who was ready to GLOW! MIDFLORIDA Credit Union was our Presenting Sponsor this year, providing over $12,000 of support to our event, including teacher, employee, principal, and assistant principal of the year prize money. Prior to our event on Monday evening, teachers and employees of the year, and a significant other, were treated to a private dinner party at Captain Hiram’s Tiffany Room, sponsored by Napier and Rollin Attorneys at Law.

Twenty-two Teachers of the Year and twenty-five Employees of the Year were recognized at the Gala, as they walked across the stage to shake the hands of the SDIRC Board Members and Superintendent Moore. Behind each teacher and employee was a personalized slide show displaying our “Stars of the Year” logo and a headshot of each honoree provided by Dean Stewart Photography. The energy in the room was kept high with a variety of 80’s dance music by “DJay Ross” of Barwick Entertainment, including a black light dance break that was enjoyed by all.

Performances during the show included Dodgertown Elementary Music Honors, under the direction of Mr. Ti’Rhon Parks, performing “Racing Hearts” by Mattie Maguire in a blacklight glow performance, complete with gloves and illuminated glasses; and the Sebastian River High School Jazz Combo, performing “Africa” by Toto.

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Cristen Maddux at 772-564-5527 or via email at Cristen.Maddux@indianriverschools.org

Celebrating all our Teachers and Employees of the Year!


School/Office Teacher of the Year Employee of the Year
ACE Robert McIntosh  Judy Clark 
Beachland Diana O’Connor  Ruth Santiago
Citrus Erin Hollander Kim Morgan
Dodgertown Stacey Miller Lavette Ponders
Fellsmere Jessica Mowery Carolina Rojas
Gifford Middle Carlean Browning Alejandrina Micket
Glendale Heather Dixon Andrea Mezzina
Indian River Academy Zahirelie Ortiz  Cassandra Coppola 
Liberty Magnet Jeanne Prince Tiffany Langdon
Osceola Magnet Kathy Cathcart Mark Duffany
Oslo Middle Bryan McMullen April Gehrke
Pelican Island Chantal Shaw Joseph Susino
Rosewood Magnet Luanne Lewis Carol Burns
Sebastian Elementary Sara Murto Jean Jules
Sebastian River Middle Mitzi DiRocco Jo Witherington
Sebastian River High Garrett Roux  German Reyes
Storm Grove Middle  Danyelle Sessoms John Hughes
Treasure Coast Elementary Jessica Cantlon Rutherford  Maurine Horne
Treasure Coast Technical College Brian Mosblech Danelle Browning
Vero Beach Elementary Ataaba Patterson Jonathan Vargas
Vero Beach High Stephen Byrd Allyson Jankowski
Wabasso Gene Hanley  Bryanna Frengel

District Office Kerry Gorr
Support Complex Ann Rieben
Transportation Catina Bryant
Principal of the Year TaKeisha Harris
Assistant Principal of the Year Christopher Cummings