Over $110,000 in Education Awards Enhance Community’s Future

Great job to the teachers and students who recently received $111,500 in academic awards and scholarships from CFFK and our generous funding partners. Thanks to all of you, we’re making a difference for the future of our community.

Teachers of Merit Awards

Nine Key West High School (KWHS) teachers have been awarded a total of $65,000 through the distinguished “David Wolkowsky 2020 Teachers of Merit Awards.” The awards are given annually by CFFK on behalf of the late Key West philanthropist and businessman David Wolkowsky.

The awards honor KWHS teachers who go the extra mile in their passion for teaching and dedication to students. CFFK has been partnering with the late Key West philanthropist for over 19 years to bestow the annual awards. A legacy gift Mr. Wolkowsky made to CFFK when he passed away in 2018 will continue the Teachers of Merit for generations to come.

The 2020 Teacher of the Year is Donna Tedesco, Chemistry teacher and department chair. Donna, who received $25,000, was cited by KWHS Principal Amber Archer Acevedo for her “commitment to excellence which shines through in all areas as she institutes new programs, mentors colleagues and provides school- wide leadership.”

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

  • Karen Castro (Spanish)
  • Betsy Ford (English)
  • Neda Jackson (Math)
  • Paula Mercer (Government and Economics)
  • Pat Rech (English)
  • Wanda Spencer (Counselor)
  • Michael Truhan (Math)
  • Jody Westbrook (Criminal Justice)

The Community Foundation administers the awards and the recipients are selected by the school administration, based on the teachers’ contributions in and out of the classroom. “Mr. Wolkowsky’s gift honors teachers who give freely of their time, energy and expertise to encourage and inspire students,” said Jennifer McComb, President and CEO of CFFK. “I’m glad we’re able to honor someone’s generous legacy while also recognizing the important role teachers have in shaping our community’s young people and our future.”

Watch the Teachers of Merit Awards presentation here:


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

Harry and Linda Bryant Fund Award

Belinda Rodriguez with KWHS Principal Acevedo

KWHS Spanish teacher Belinda Rodriguez is the first recipient of the new Harry and Linda Bryant Fund grant award. The fund was created at CFFK by Key West native Liz Wooten-Reschke to honor her late parents for their four decades of community service in the Keys. The annual $1,000 grant promotes dedicated local teachers in her parents’ name and celebrates the critical role educators play in our community.

This first year, Liz decided the grant recipient should be a teacher economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. “I wanted to see where the emerging needs were, particularly with teachers,” says Liz. “I am proud that the support of teachers has helped in such a positive way.”

In helping select Belinda Rodriguez as the first grant recipient, KWHS Principal Amber Archer Acevedo said, “Belinda is a single mom who has done an excellent job with virtual learning, just like she does in her classroom. She is not only deserving of recognition, but she definitely has had a higher need due to the COVID pandemic and its economic effects.”

Liz Wooten-Reschke is a former resident of Key West and created the Harry and Linda Bryant Fund at CFFK 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.”

In future years, the Harry and Linda Bryant Fund will award an annual grant to a local teacher, especially at KWHS, for classroom enhancements that have a positive impact on students. Generous donors, like Liz Wooten-Reschke, often create new funds or make gifts to the Community Foundation in honor or in memory of a family member or loved one.


Student Scholarships and Awards
CFFK and its generous donors also awarded $45,500 to 15 deserving 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 Carter Nasser: $500
  • Andrea Staci Carbonell Scholarship to Emilia Havlicek: $500
  • First State Bank Diego L. Caso Scholarship to Megan Williams: $1,000
  • Hamilton Family Award to Meggie Iarrobino: $3,000
  • Hamilton Family Award to Jasmine Sander: $2,000
  • Hamilton Family Boyd’s Key West Campground Award to Alexis Sturm: $1,000
  • Gail Heintz Scholarship to Savannah Iglesias: $1,000
  • Hemingway Look-A-Like Society’s Kermit Shine Forbes Scholarship to Savannah Iglesias: $1,500
  • Hemingway Look-A-Like Society’s Opportunity Scholarships to Jillian Duclo and Hunter Oropeza: $3,000 ($1,500 each)
  • Katie Higgs-Wyrwicki Memorial Culinary Scholarship to Linsey Wilkins: $1,500
  • G. Ross McKee Jr. Scholarship to Hunter Oropeza: $5,000
  • Franko Richmond Music Scholarship to Noah Goins: $500
  • Floy V. Thompson Community Awareness Scholarship to TK Perkins: $20,000
  • Jeff MacNelly Memorial Award to TK Perkins: $5,000

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