LAKE PLACID — Avon Park High School social studies teacher Cynthia Barrett is Highlands’ Teacher of the Year and Cracker Trail Elementary School paraprofessional Kristine Sebring is the county’s School Related Employee of the Year.

The two honorees were announced at the annual Summit Awards reception and awards ceremony, which was held Monday evening at Lake Placid High School. The event, which also features the school-level honorees, was presented by the Highlands County Education Foundation, Inc.

Foundation President Paul McGehee said, “Tonight we pay tribute to the outstanding teachers and support employees in the Highlands County School District.

“The 36 individuals that we recognize tonight represent over 1,600 teachers and support personnel who absolutely dedicate themselves everyday in educating Highlands County’s 12,000 children.”

Last year’s Teacher of the Year, Dawn Henderson, said it was an honor and a blessing to serve as Teacher of the Year.

“There is no way of knowing just how far your impact will reach as you invest daily in the lives of your students,” she said. “I urge you all to show up each day, and even when you are not feeling like ‘Teacher of the Yearish,’ look forward to the small amounts of encouragement and affirmation to keep you going and remember that each day you choose to do these things you are creating a legacy that will live on in your students and future generations.”

Last year’s Support Employee of the Year Lake Placid High School media paraprofessional, Alesia Cheshire, said, “Education’s benefits are endless. It empowers all of us. Each and every one of us that works at a school to take on new rolls; to build futures and to make our community a better place to life.”

She has been up to the challenge for 26 years, stressing the importance of education to her students.

Kevin Tunning, of LPHS, was recognized as the Principal of the Year and Kimberly Riley, of APHS, was recognized as the Assistant Principal of the Year.

Ag Angels was recognized as the Foundation’s Business Partner with Scott Kirouac accepting the acrylic award from Superintendent Brenda Longshore.

The Highlands County Education Foundation was formed as a direct support organization and is comprised of former administrators, former educators and business partners to assist in recognizing teachers and administrators in K-12 education.