School District Awards

  • Ruth Holland

    Key West High School's Ruth Holland Receives State Outstanding Educator Award

    Key West High School veteran teacher, Ms. Ruth Holland, has been selected by the Florida Division on Career Development and Transition (FL DCDT) as the recipient of the Debra Husted Memorial Award for Outstanding Educator for the many hours she has spent providing exemplary transition services to her students. 

    The Debra Husted Memorial Dreams Can Come True Award is given to an educator who exemplifies the values of tenacity and caring and has a strong belief in the ability of individuals with disabilities.  It requires the recipient's circle of involvement to be wide and influence many facets of the student’s lives.  Ms. Holland meets these requirements in a multitude of ways, and has impacted the lives of hundreds of students during her career in the Monroe County School District (MCSD).

    Superintendent Theresa Axford said, “There aren’t enough awards available to recognize Ruth Holland for all of her incredible contributions to students. That being said, I am thrilled that she has received this recognition on the state level as a testament to her amazing work.

    Ruth Holland is an exceptional teacher of exceptional students; one who has devoted her career to promoting independence and self-advocacy for young adults with special needs.  Her career with MCSD spans from the late 1990’s through our current 2020-2021 school year, when she will retire. 

    Her accomplishments are numerous, and include founding the “Transition to Independence, Employment and Success” (TIES) in collaboration with MCSD, Vocational Rehabilitation, the United States Navy through Sigsbee Naval Base, and other community partners. The program helps students who need it to remain in public schools until the age of 22 and helps them develop specific job skills and soft-skills as well as life skills through internships and apprenticeships in the community. 

    As a result of her innovative thinking and determination, her students have the opportunity to learn to drive, use the public transportation system, and can be seen employed in local stores, restaurants and other jobs where they continue to grow. Her efforts help prepare students to be successful in a work environment and in life when they leave her program. 

    Ruth has said, on many occasions, “The day before a student’s 22nd birthday should feel just like the day after their 22nd birthday – seamless transition into the community.” 

    Congratulations to our Employees of the year for 2020-2021!

    For more details about our Employees of the Year, click here: 2020-2021 MCSD School Based Teachers of the Year & 2020-2021 MCSD School Related Employees of the Year.

    Ms.. Horsley MCSD teacher of the year  Monroe County School District's 2020 2021 Teacher of the Year: Ms. Monica Horsley 

    Plantation Key School (PKS) 4th grade teacher, Monica Horsley, is Monroe County School District’s (MCSD) Teacher of the Year (TOY), Superintendent Theresa Axford announced.  Horsley was chosen from a talented pool of MCSD school level Teachers of the Year by a committee comprised of administrators, curriculum team members and former school level teachers of the year, for her outstanding contributions in the classroom, school, and community. Candidates are judged on instruction, data, school/community involvement, recommendation letters, as well as rigorous critique of a recorded lesson.  

    Superintendent Axford made the announcement in person with a surprise presentation in front of Horsley’s class of jubilant students. “The selection committee had a challenging time choosing from such an impressive and talented group of educators,” Axford stated.  “Every school’s TOY representative excelled in the classroom and throughout their communities. However, it was Mrs. Horsley’s unique and inspirational teaching style, as well as her ability to create an authentic learning environment, full of love and mutual respect, for her students that earned her this prestigious honor.”

    Horsley, an eight year veteran educator, is known for designing intriguing lesson plans and differentiating instruction to accommodate her students’ various academic and emotional needs.  According to PKS principal Lisa Taylor, “Mrs. Horsley demonstrates the attributes of a master teacher every day in her classroom.  She recognizes the importance of the balance between the academic and emotional needs of students.  Her influence reaches much farther than a traditional classroom teacher.  Her students want to learn, they thrive in her classroom, and they believe that they can achieve the high standards and expectations resulting in their success.”

    These student relationships, along with her fervor and enthusiasm for PKS, has made Horsley a favorite among students, teachers, and staff alike.  “Monica is an exceptional teacher with the “gift” of teaching,” commented PKS 5th grade teacher, Michele Houston.  “In addition to her inspirational work in the classroom, she is also an inspiring and supportive colleague and dynamic leader at our school.”

    Horsley has the ability to inspire and impact everyone she comes in contact with, both at school and in the community.  Her colleagues site her exemplary work ethic, teamwork, and ability to lead by example as some of the many reasons that she is the perfect candidate for the Teacher of the Year distinction.

    Horsley, who has been teaching at PKS since 2016, responded with tears of joy upon receiving the good news, stating that she was “honored to represent all of the outstanding teachers at PKS and throughout the Monroe County School district.”  Horsley, a self-described “lifelong learner,” sites her appreciation for the process of learning, as well as her strong student relationships as her inspiration to continually cultivate a learning environment which meets the social, emotional, and academic needs of each individual student.

    “My love of teaching comes from my love for my students,” Horsley said.  “They inspire me to do better each and every day. I enjoy developing engaging lessons that encourage them to actively take part in their learning. However, my ultimate goal is to empower my students to realize their full potential and encourage them to foster a life-long passion for learning.”

    In addition to her teaching duties, Horsley serves as a member of the PKS Building Level Planning Team, serves on the District Technology Support Guide Team, and spearheads a social media program that increases parent and community involvement.  She also devotes her time to several community organizations, including serving as a Conch Scramble Charity Board Member. She and her husband live in Islamorada.

    According to the Florida Department of Education, the Florida Teacher of the Year Program is designed “to honor and recognize excellence in teaching, support continued learning for all educators, and highlight the importance and impact of the profession.”


    polanco mcsd SRP of the year with district administration  OVERALL SCHOOL RELATED EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR: 
    Carlos Polanco, Upper Keys Maintenance