Who are the finalists for Manatee County Educator of the Year?

Eight employees are vying for two awards in the School District of Manatee County.

The winners will be announced at this year’s Excellence in Education Awards, slated for 7 p.m. on March 6. Manatee Technical College will host the ceremony at its main campus, 6305 State Road 70 E., in Bradenton.

A panel of judges reviewed 56 nominations, each chosen from a pool of nearly 350 submissions, according to a news release.

Four finalists are eligible for Educator of the Year:

  • Richard Daenell, a business education teacher at Lee Middle School.
  • Stephanie Davis, a fifth-grade teacher at Sea Breeze Elementary School.
  • Debra Hartline, a reading teacher at Braden River High School.
  • Diane Stead, a fifth-grade teacher at Freedom Elementary School.

Another four finalists are eligible for Support Employee of the Year:

  • Angelie Graham, an employee benefits assistant at the School Support Center.
  • Amanda Keeney, the cafeteria manager at Myakka Elementary School.
  • Valerie Meridan, the front office clerk at Johnson-Wakeland School of International Baccalaureate.
  • Robert Rice, the head custodian at Tara Elementary School.

The chosen educator will qualify for Florida’s Teacher of the Year, an award co-sponsored by Macy’s and the state Department of Education.

One support employee will advance to Florida’s School-Related Employee of the Year competition.

In her prepared statement, Superintendent Cynthia Saunders acknowledged the finalists for their hard work and dedication.

“We look forward to honoring these employees for everything they have done for our students and schools at the Excellence in Education Awards in March,” she said.