Pasco Education Foundation honors top school employees
Klint LowryNEW PORT RICHEY - Contrary to what many people outside education think, people who work at schools don't get "three months off" in the summer. But there is a little bit of a chance for a breather, to look back at the past year and acknowledge successes. The Pasco Education Foundation likes to recognize individuals who work at Pasco County schools whose job it is to create a safe, secure and positive environment for students.
Published: June 23, 2012
Published: June 23, 2012
Last Wednesday, the nonprofit foundation, which raises funds for public education in Pasco County, held its annual Principal and School Resource Officer Awards Luncheon at Spartan Manor.
"Every year, it's important to recognize the relationship that exists between the municipalities, the Sheriff's Department and the school board," the foundation's executive director, Chip Wichmanowski, said.
Awards are given in three categories: Outstanding School Administrator of the Year, Outstanding School Resource Officer of the Year and Outstanding School Related Personnel of the Year.
"It's more of a feel-good event," Wichmanowski said. "It's an opportunity to say, 'this is the county, this is the cities and this is the school board all working together.' "
Lt. James Law of the Pasco Sheriff's Office, who coordinates many of the program's SROs, had a similar perspective on the awards.
"It's a nice time for the school resource officers, for the administrators and some of the school board members to celebrate a successful year and celebrate the partnership that we have," Law said.
The role of the school resource officer is more than being the "cop on the campus," Law said. It's getting into the classrooms and teaching safety-related courses. Students learn that they can go to their SRO, whether it's a personal matter or relating to the welfare of the school.
Prior to the luncheon, three finalists are named in each category. School principals nominate SROs, and vice versa, and both nominate SRPs. A committee reviews letters of recommendation to select the finalists.
The three finalists for SRO this year were: Cpl. Charles Wynn, Land O'Lakes High School; Cpl. Richard Bynum, Fivay High School; and Cpl. Kathleen Ferguson, River Ridge Middle School. Wynn was named the award recipient.
In the SRP category, Anclote High School's Terry Winthrop stood next to fellow nominees Marlane Castellano of J. W. Mitchell High School and Flo Cione of River Ridge Middle School.
"It's gratifying to have the people you work with show this kind of appreciation," Winthrop said. It means a lot to me because I am young and I have a lot to prepare for in my career."
Winthrop, 21, said he likes working with students who are having attendance and other issues. He plans on joining the military for a few years, then pursuing a career in law enforcement.
Crews Lake Middle School Principal Chris Christoff edged out Wiregrass High School Principal Ray Bonti and Charles S. Rushe Middle School assistant principal Ron Michalak for Administrator of the Year honors.
Klowry@suncoastnews.com (727) 815-1067