Teachers and Students Enhance Keys Future

This year presented challenges in education and we’re proud of all our Florida Keys students and teachers who worked exceptionally hard. The Community Foundation was honored to present $113,000 recently in academic awards and scholarships.

Teachers of Merit Awards

Nine Key West High School (KWHS) teachers have been awarded a total of $65,000 through the distinguished “David Wolkowsky 2021 Teachers of Merit Awards.” The awards are given annually by the Community Foundation of the Florida Keys on behalf of late Key West philanthropist and businessman David Wolkowsky.

The awards honor KWHS teachers for their passion for teaching and dedication to students. The Community Foundation has been partnering with the late philanthropist for over 20 years to bestow the awards. The legacy fund by Mr. Wolkowsky is managed by the Community Foundation, established exclusively to continue the Teachers of Merit awards annually into future generations.

The 2021 Teacher of the Year is Sarah Smith, media specialist at KWHS. Sarah, who received $25,000, was cited by KWHS Principal Christina McPherson as being a phenomenal asset to the school who “engages even the most reluctant learners and the inexperienced in her instruction.”

Eight other Teachers of Merit each received $5,000:

  • Douglas Bickings
  • Brett Fink
  • Monica Fletchall
  • Ruth Holland
  • Kathlene Hurtado
  • Margaret Kiefer
  • Rebecca Provost
  • Marjorie Rodriguez

The Community Foundation administers the awards and the recipients are selected by the school administration. ““The Community Foundation is grateful to be able to honor Mr. Wolkowsky’s generous legacy to recognize the important and inspirational role teachers have in shaping our community’s young people and our future,” said Jennifer McComb, President and CEO of CFFK.

During the presentation of the awards, Principal McPherson said, “The Wolkowsky family expresses their appreciation to the teachers for the dedication and support they provided to students through this most difficult and unexpected year.”

If you know an individual or organization who would like to sponsor similar awards for teachers at Coral Shores High School or Marathon High School, please contact us at cffk@cffk.org or call 305-292-1502.

(Left to right): KWHS Principal Christina McPherson, Community Foundation President/CEO Jennifer McComb, and KWHS teachers Christy Ledbetter, Monica Fletchall, Doug Bickings, Rebecca Provost, Brett Fink, Kathlene Hurtado, Ruth Holland, Marjorie Rodriguez, Margaret Kiefer, and Sarah Smith.

Learn more about David Wolkowsky, the generous late philanthropist known as “Mr. Key West”:

Harry and Linda Bryant Fund Award

Christy Ledbetter was awarded $1,000 from the Harry and Linda Bryant Fund at the Community Foundation. The Fund, established in 2020 by Liz Wooten-Reschke, promotes a dedicated Key West High School teacher. In light of the challenges of the past year, the award was given to help provide economic relief for a teacher devoting invaluable hard work and talent to benefit students and their families.

Liz Wooten-Reschke is a former resident of Key West and created the Harry and Linda Bryant Fund in memory of her late parents who lived and worked in, volunteered and financially supported the Keys for more than 40 years, specifically Key West High School. Liz’s mother was a long-time English teacher there and Liz was a KWHS student.

“My parents gave countless hours, dollars and support to the Key West community,” says Liz. “It seems only fitting to honor their memory and their commitment by investing in educators at KWHS.”

Community Foundation President/CEO Jennifer McComb and Christy Ledbetter

Student Scholarships and Awards
The Community Foundation and its generous donors also awarded funds to KWHS students through scholarships to continue their education and awards in recognition of their academic achievements. Whether the students will be studying arts, aviation, business, nursing, or a variety of other fields this fall, the scholarships and awards provide critical help to pursue their academic goals.

The recipients are:
  • Fred R. Cabanas Aviation Memorial Scholarship to Jessica Brady: $500
  • Andrea Staci Carbonell Scholarship to Sarah Hall: $500
  • First State Bank Diego L. Caso Scholarship to Rochelle Gill: $1,000
  • Hamilton Family Award to Christina Tong: $3,000
  • Hamilton Family Award to Evelyn Neilson: $2,000
  • Hamilton Family Boyd’s Key West Campground Award to Nicolas Concepcion: $1,000
  • Gail Heintz Scholarship to Miralove Joseph: $1,000
  • Hemingway Look-A-Like Society’s Opportunity Scholarships to Matthew Portillo, Jemma North, and Jessica Brady: $4,500 ($1,500 each)
  • Katie Higgs-Wyrwicki Memorial Culinary Scholarships to Lydia Cuervo-Palazon and Trinity Sanders : $3,000 ($1,500 each)
  • G. Ross McKee Jr. Scholarship to Olivia Castillo: $5,000
  • Franko Richmond Music Scholarship to Heaven Rodriguez: $500
  • Floy V. Thompson Community Awareness Scholarship to Christina Tong: $20,000
  • Jeff MacNelly Memorial Award to Amanda Greene: $5,000

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