SDIRC Announces Stars of the Year 2021

SDIRC Announces Teacher and Employee of the Year at Stars of the Year Gala
Posted on 01/29/2021
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Vero Beach, FL, January 29, 2021– On January 25th, the Vero Beach High School “Billy Livings Field” lit up for our “Stars of the Year” gala. A parade of Teachers and Employees of the Year, nominated by each school and district department, made their grand entrance into the Citrus Bowl escorted by law enforcement officers from the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office, Vero Beach Police Department, Sebastian Police Department, and Fellsmere Police Department.

Twenty-one Teachers of the Year and twenty-four Employees of the Year were recognized at the gala, which was transitioned outdoors this year to ensure the safety of all who attended. The theme of this year’s gala was, “Masquerade Ball,” and the guests attended in bright colors and masquerade masks. MIDFLORIDA Credit Union was our Presenting Sponsor again this year, providing over $8,000 of support to our event, including teacher, employee, principal, and assistant principal of the year prize money. Prior to the gala on Monday evening, our stars and a significant other were treated to a private dinner party at American Icon, sponsored by Napier and Rollin Attorneys at Law.

The stands erupted in cheers as each star crossed the stage and was presented with a plaque recognizing their achievement by SDIRC Board Members and Dr. Moore. A personalized slide show played on the jumbotron featuring a headshot of each of the honorees provided by Dean Stewart Photography. The energy on Billy Livings Field was enhanced with a variety of dance music by “DJay Ross” of Barwick Entertainment.

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 to anxiously await the announcement of the winner of the SDIRC 2022 Teacher and 2021 Employee of the Year. Superintendent David K. Moore, Ed. D. and Presenting Sponsors, MIDFLORIDA Credit Union’s Carrie Anderson, Local Branch Manager, and Lindsey Garcia, Relationship Banker, took the stage to hand our SDIRC Teacher of the Year a check for $5,000 and our SDIRC Employee of the Year a check for $2,500. Congratulations to Caitlin Harris, SDIRC’s 2022 Teacher of the Year from Storm Grove Middle School, and Rebecca O’Donnell, SDIRC’s Employee of the Year from Vero Beach High School. Both Caitlin and Rebecca will be moving on to compete at the State level as nominees from the School District of Indian River County.


SDIRC 2022 Teacher of the Year
Caitlin Harris
2022 SDIRC Teacher of the Year

Caitlin Harris was born in Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education with a double-major in history at the University of Miami. Caitlin taught fourth grade at Fairlawn Magnet Elementary in St. Lucie County for two years before joining the School District of Indian River County in 2008 to teach third grade at Glendale Elementary School. After a year at Glendale, Caitlin moved to Storm Grove Middle School where she has been teaching sixth grade World Cultures for the past twelve years. Caitlin is married to Gregory, a chorus and drama teacher who also teaches at Storm Grove Middle School. They have two children, Christian and Corinne. In her free time, Caitlin enjoys cooking, swimming, acting, and singing. She is a volunteer Cantor and Quartet Member for Holy Cross Catholic Church and a performer at local theaters.

Caitlin Harris, Teacher of the Year, said, “Being a teacher has been a dream of mine since I was in first grade, and this honor of being ‘Teacher of the Year’ is the pinnacle of that dream.”

Anne Bieber, Principal at Storm Grove Middle School, added, “We couldn’t be prouder to have Caitlin Harris represent the School District of Indian River County as Teacher of the Year. Mrs. Harris’ class is always engaging, and her students look forward to seeing her every day; they often say she is their favorite teacher. She genuinely cares about her students and builds positive relationships with them. Beyond that, she mentors new teachers, is the department chair, and is always looking to build a positive climate and culture at Storm Grove. We’re excited to see her move to the next level so that everyone else can see what we have known all along.”


 

SDIRC Employee of the Year
Rebecca O'Donnell
2021 SDIRC Employee the Year

Rebecca O’Donnell was born and raised in Flemington, New Jersey, and moved to Sarasota, Florida in 1991. Rebecca earned her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from the University of South Florida in 2004 and her Master of Arts in Elementary Education: Math & Science Emphasis, in 2010 from the University of South Florida. Rebecca taught kindergarten, first, and third grades, and kindergarten through fifth grade technology with Sarasota County Schools for 12 years, before moving to Vero Beach in 2016. After joining our school district, she taught third, fourth, and fifth grades, and kindergarten through fifth grade Technology with Science. In the summer of 2019, she became a Digital Integration Specialist with the School District of Indian River County and is currently serving in this position. Rebecca and her husband Hugh, love to spend time with their two dogs, Rocky and Jeter, and are excited to be expecting a baby girl in May. Rebecca loves to travel, visit Major League Baseball ballparks, and try new foods. Rebecca’s friends, family, and colleagues have called her “Techy Becky” for years. A name that she finds fitting, because or her love of technology and helping others learn and experience it.

"It is such an incredible honor to be selected by my peers as Employee of the Year for the School District of Indian River County,” stated Rebecca O’Donnell. “Without a doubt, 2020 was full of unique and unprecedented challenges for all of us in our district. I am so proud to be a part of such a dynamic team that worked together to overcome every new challenge and obstacle thrown our way. We are, without a doubt, stronger together!”

Shawn O’Keefe, Principal of Vero Beach High School, added, “At VBHS, we couldn’t be prouder of our Employee of the Year and now District Employee of the Year, Rebecca O’Donnell. Her nomination by our VBHS ‘Stafulty’ is recognition for the tremendous level of support she offers to everyone as the Digital Integration Specialist at our school, and beyond.”


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