WEST PALM BEACH — In a year focused on addressing learning loss, Palm Beach County Public School leaders on Tuesday recognized educators who have found new ways to improve student learning on campuses with outsized challenges.

As Principal of the Year, the school district named Robera Walker, the principal of Belle Glade Elementary, who saw her state grid increase by two letters under her leadership.

The District Teacher of the Year award went to Annabel Wagner, resource teacher and bilingual coach at Greenacres Elementary, who designed her own Spanish language teaching tools for students at the school.

Both winners were honored for their work to improve learning in schools with large numbers of students from poor or marginalized communities.

At Belle Glade Elementary, in the heart of Belle Glade, 98% of students are poor enough to qualify for federal lunch subsidies. In the first year Walker took over, the school had a state F rating.

Within two years, the school’s state grade had risen to C. Student achievement increased in math, reading, and science. Teacher turnover has dropped.

After years of rotating leadership of the school, Walker, a Belle Glade native, is in her eighth year at the helm, the longest-serving leader in at least two decades.

At an awards ceremony on Tuesday, Walker said her time as principal only inspired her to work harder to improve the school’s results.

“We have work to do,” she said, “and I’m not tired.”

Greenacres Elementary Teacher Annabel Wager is the Palm Beach County School District's Teacher of the Year.

At Greenacres Elementary, Wagner provides additional instructional support for students with learning disabilities or for whom English is not their first language.

After struggling to find the right teaching materials for her students, she took matters into her own hands.

“I noticed the lack of resources in Spanish, so I created my own materials and sequence to teach literacy in Spanish,” she wrote in an appointment letter.

Together with a colleague, she designed not only a teaching program for educators in the bilingual school, but also a Spanish phonetics assessment tool.

“There is still a lot of work to do,” she wrote, “but we are on track to meet our goals and expectations.”

As Vice Principal of the Year, the school district named Jupiter High School’s Amber Saunders.

The School Employee of the Year award went to Connie Leonardi, administrative assistant at New Horizons Elementary.

The winners were announced at an outdoor awards ceremony at the Cox Science Center and Aquarium in West Palm Beach, the district’s first public awards event since the coronavirus pandemic began nearly ago. two years.

[email protected]

@AMarranara