DATE: January 11, 2018
Vero Beach, FL – January 11, 2018 – The School District of Indian River County would like to recognize their five Teacher of the Year and five Employee of the Year Finalists chosen during the 2017-2018 school year. Out of 21 teachers and 25 employees, these individuals were chosen after submitting an informational packet including letters of recommendation, resumes, awards and achievements, and lesson plans (for teachers). Each Teacher and Employee of the Year and completed an interview process with a panel of 7 members representing the District. Our teacher of the Year finalists will move forward to complete a videoed lesson with their class that will be reviewed by the committee to assist in selecting a winner for the district. All of our school Teachers and Employees of the Year will be recognized at the “Stars of the Year” gala on January 22, 2018.
Catherine Rodriguez Beck was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA. She was the first person from her immediate family to graduate both high school and college. After high school, she attended Kemper Military Junior college and received an Associate Degree. In 2007, she moved to Texas where she worked at a local elementary as a Paraprofessional in a self-contained classroom for children with Autism. She went back to school and received a Bachelor of Science with a teaching certification from Texas Wesleyan University. Upon certification, Catherine taught 4th grade and 5th grade classes, both as a resource teacher and a general education teacher. Catherine currently teaches 5th grade at Treasure Coast Elementary School. Though it took Catherine a while to decide that education was her true calling, she is happy she finally made it.
Marie A. Joseph grew up in Palm Beach County, Florida. She is the oldest and only girl of four siblings. As a young child, she dreamed of becoming a doctor and a teacher. Dr. Joseph is a proud alumnus of the University of Florida. In 2006, she earned a B.S. Degree in Health Science, in 2014 a Doctorate Degree in Medicine, and is currently pursuing a Master's Degree in Public Health from the University of West Florida. Dr. Joseph has been teaching for 3 years, and is currently teaching science at Sebastian River Middle School. Dr. Joseph is dedicated to educating and inspiring everyone she meets. She speaks 3 languages: English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole. She is an advocate, a mentor, an educator, and a role-model to many.
Tess Borengasser was born in Houston, Texas and grew up in Vero Beach. She is a new mom to a little girl named, Ellie. Tess graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching second grade at Glendale Elementary for the last five years. Tess is the leader of her second-grade team, part of the thinking maps team, and teaches in the Glendale University after school program. She is a mentor for new teachers and meets with them on a weekly basis to help guide their teaching practices. On the weekends, Tess is enjoying motherhood to its fullest and loves all the new experiences she gets to have with her daughter.
Becky Pylant was born in Cape Girardeau, MO and grew up in Northeast Louisiana where she graduated from ULM. She taught 2 years in La. before moving to Vero Beach in 1989. She worked in St. Lucie county for nine years before coming to Indian River County where she has taught the past 19 years at Fellsmere, Dodgertown, and Citrus Elementary. She has taught grades K-4 over the years and is currently teaching K/1 ELA. She in her 30th year of teaching. She facilitates the Moonshot Academy at Citrus Elementary on Tuesday and Thursdays. She has a son Tristan who graduated from VBHS. Becky attends Vero Christian Church where she teaches K-5 Children’s Church and is on the Mission’s Team.
Melissa Sleeper is a Nationally Board Certified Teacher currently teaching Science at Gifford Middle School. She has worked for the School District of Indian River since 2008. Melissa has taught in both private and public schools in Grenada, Barbados, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and the United States. Melissa holds a B.S. in Agriculture Economics from the University of Maryland, an M.A.T. from Johns Hopkins, and an M.Ed. in Science and Math Leadership from George Mason University. An active member of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), Melissa is a frequent presenter at national and regional conferences. She has served as the Chairperson of the Advisory Board for Science and Children, a professional journal for elementary science teachers, served on the Preschool and Elementary Science Committee, and chaired the NSTA Special Needs Advisory Board. Currently, she serves on the Aerospace Advisory Board. She is also on the Board of the National Middle Level Science Teachers Association (NMLSTA). Melissa is an Educator Ambassador for NASA’s MAVEN program. She and her husband, Jonathan, have one daughter, Faith Alice, who lives and works in Washington, D.C.
Paige Visser was born in Washington, DC but moved to East Lansing, Michigan when she was 2 weeks old. Paige attended Michigan State University where she met her husband, Troy. Paige moved with her family to Vero Beach in 2007. Paige has three children; Julia is a sophomore at Florida State University and is majoring in music education; Randy is a junior at Vero Beach High School and active with the rowing team; Erin is in 7th grade at Gifford Middle School. After 10 years of volunteering at Beachland Elementary School, Paige decided she wanted to stay and continue to enjoy her Beachland family. She now serves as the Media Assistant and often refers to the library as her "happy place." Paige's interests include reading, science, computer science, and being outside.
Colleen Keat was born in Trenton, New Jersey, graduated from Fort Pierce Central High school, and received her Nursing Diploma/License from Indian River State College. She has worked in Saint Lucie County Schools, Indian River County Schools, working at Gifford Middle School for the past 4 years. She has 2 grown daughters and 3 wonderful grandchildren. She enjoys watching her grandchildren ski in Park city, Utah every Christmas. She lives by a quote from Florence Nightingale, “Live your life while you have it. Life is a splendid gift. But to live your life, you must discipline it.”
Valecia Tarpley was born and raised in Indian River County. She attended the public-school system of Indian River County. She achieved her A.A, A.S, and Bachelor's Degree in Human Services from Indian River State College. Valecia is very active in Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Lambda Beta Zeta Chapter of Indian River County. Through her sorority, Valecia participates in fundraising events for scholarships that benefit graduates from our community, and she also works with youth groups in the community. Valecia is currently employed as an Instructional Assistant at the Alternative Center for Education, where she is an integral and highly valued member of the staff.
Mrs. Giordano was born in Yonkers, New York. She moved to Sebastian in 2003 with her husband Paul of 29 years. She is the proud mom of 17-year-old triplets, Johnny, Nicholas, and Stephanie who are Juniors at Sebastian River High School. Patty has worked in an array of different positons for the SDIRC since 2007. She is currently the Front Office & Attendance Secretary at Sebastian River Middle School. She is the coordinator for SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco) & SWAG (Students with Attendance Goals) and an IB Mentor. Patty also serves as the Hospitality Coordinator for Sebastian River High School Band. Outside of the school district, Patty has been very involved in the scouting program for the past 11 years serving on various committees as well as being a leader for both organizations. Her son Johnny recently obtained Eagle Rank which earned him Project of the Year competing against 164 other projects throughout Florida.
Jillian Brothers lives in Vero Beach with her Husband, Michael, and their 3 sons - Jasper, Dennis, and Andrew. She has lived in Florida for the past 11 years, 8 of those years working for Walt Disney Resort before coming to work at Fellsmere Elementary for the past 3 years. She loves her job as Head Custodian at Fellsmere Elementary School, where she feels part of a family, not just working a job. "Fellsmere Elementary is an amazing school, the families that live and attend here are amazing and it is my pleasure to see them each day and help with whatever needs to be done to keep our school ‘Galloping for Success, Nothing Less’!"