District Announces Teacher and School-Related Employee of the Year
Syndie White is the School District of Palm Beach County’s Teacher of the Year. Her selection was announced by Superintendent Donald E. Fennoy II during a surprise visit to White’s third-grade classroom at Elbridge Gale Elementary School in Wellington on March 5.
White has been a teacher in the School District for eight years, five of those as a math, science, and social studies teacher at Elbridge Gale.
“She is the epitome of what a teacher is in Palm Beach County,” Fennoy said. “She is someone who is absolutely dedicated to her profession, but dedicated to her children more than anything else.”
White is always looking for new ways to engage her students in their lessons. She is a coach for the school’s LEGO Robotics team, implemented Minecraft for Education, and established a Makerspace for her students. She also encourages girls to take on leadership roles, as well as promoting an interest in STEM education. Additionally, White has started a Girls in Aviation Day and Young Engineers Club.
A first-generation Haitian-American, she lost her mother at a young age and says that her teachers helped get her through that difficult time in her life, their mentorship ultimately inspiring her to become a teacher.
White has previously been recognized as the District’s Math Teacher of the Year and Science Teacher of the Year. She credits her success to her father's example of hard work and dedication.
“This is the American dream,” White said as she wiped tears from her eyes. “My father has mowed lawns for nearly 30 years so I could go to college and make a difference.”
White is now eligible to win the 2021 Teacher of the Year for the state of Florida. Later this year she will be honored at a celebration at Braman BMW, alongside the District’s School-Related Employee of the Year.
Ivey Colligan has been named as The School District of Palm Beach County’s School-Related Employee of the Year.
Colligan has been with the School District for 21 years and currently serves as the secretary to the principal of Orchard View Elementary School, Lisa Lee.
“Part of our role as a [school] district is to make sure that every child has a caring adult to turn to and [Colligan] has extended herself beyond her defined role to be that person for her students,” said Superintendent Dr. Fennoy. “Celebrating our School-Related Employee of the Year is a testament to how we value every one of our employees.”
Over her time in the School District, Colligan has been a bookkeeper, attendance clerk, food service employee and principal’s secretary.
Colligan has worked directly with Lee for seven years, moving with her to Orchard View four years ago. In her role at Orchard View, Colligan was essential in the success of raising the school’s letter grade from a ‘D’ to a ‘B’ by not only showing her dedication during school hours, but also by tutoring students on Saturdays.
Lee says that Colligan knows “no other way than to give it her all,” and for that reason she was nominated by her school for the award for the past three years.
Colligan approaches every day with positivity and hard work and it serves as an example for the students and staff. Known by the students as “Miss Ivey'', she has an open door policy for everyone because she firmly believes that every student should have at least one adult in the school who they truly feel cares for them.
“Knowing that someone actually read everything that I do and thought it was fabulous enough to give me this opportunity and thank me for it,” said Colligan. “It means, I can’t even tell you what it means to me.”
Colligan was surprised with news of her selection during a visit to the school by Dr. Fennoy. She will be honored along with the District’s Teacher of the Year, Syndie White, at a ceremony on May 7 at Braman BMW. She will serve as the District’s nomination for School-Related Employee of the Year for the State of Florida.