Honor is latest for highly-prized local educator

The accolades keep rolling in for Media Specialist at Plew Elementary, Shawna Crist. Crist reached the triple crown of education excellence in her career by winning the Okaloosa County Teacher, Volunteer, and Support Professional of the Year, was recently named one of five finalists for the Florida Department of Education School Related Employee of the Year. 

Other nominees for the award include:

  • Verma Hines – Bay County
  • Elizabeth Gioffre – Indian River County
  • James Busshcer – Lee County 
  • Joanne Padon – St. Lucie County 

According to the Florida Department of Education – the Florida School-Related Employee of the Year Program “recognizes outstanding education support personnel for the significant contributions they make to their schools and district school systems.” All non-certified, non-instructional education support personnel are eligible for the award. This includes teacher aides, library aides, bookkeepers, secretaries and clerks, bus drivers, food service staff, custodians, building maintenance workers, warehouse workers, mechanics, nurses and office managers.  


These finalists have been recognized for their exceptional performance in their respective roles and their contributions to their school and district communities. The winner of the 2023 SREY award will be announced in May during a special ceremony at the Florida Department of Education.

In a statement, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran said, “The School-Related Employee of the Year award is a way to recognize the vital contributions that support staff make to our schools and communities. These five finalists are shining examples of the excellence and dedication that we see from school support staff across the state of Florida. Congratulations to all of the finalists, and thank you for your hard work and commitment to our students.”

No other Okaloosa County School District Support Staff Member has ever been a finalist in the 11 years the state has had the award. 2022’s winner, Greg Lyon, is a paraprofessional at Hiland Park Elementary School in Bay County. 

Woman smiling in a photo portrait
Shawna Crist has won her third district-wide award in her education career. This time, she was named the support professional of the year.
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These five finalists are shining examples of the excellence and dedication that we see from school support staff across the state of Florida.
Richard Corcoran
Former Education Commissioner of the State of Florida

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