Jim Gambone didn't think for a minute he would be chosen as the Flagler County School District's 2022-23 Teacher of the Year.
"There are so many great teachers in Flagler County," Gambone said following the official announcement Thursday night. "For me, it's just going to be what can I do to promote teaching in this hard year of teaching and to make it better for everybody else as we go forward in this crazy time."
The Flagler-Palm Coast High School math teacher was "caped" as the district's "superhero" Teacher of the Year during the annual gala Thursday evening in the Flagler Auditorium.
"This year's teacher is a model teacher, always gives back to the students in the school," said Superintendent Cathy Mittlestadt. "A hero of the campus and who knows how many lives he has influenced."
The theme for the 2022-23 Teacher and Employee of the Year was "A Year of Heroes." All of the nominees were recognized and they walked, danced or strutted their way down the red carpet as family, friends and colleagues cheered, set off noisemakers and waved decorated signs.
"The last few years have been challenging for all of us. Yet you persevered," Mittlestadt said in a letter to the nominees referring to the COVID-19 pandemic, online teaching and ever-changing COVID-19 policies. "You have risen to the challenge when facing all that has been swirling around us."
Gambone, who has lived in Flagler County since 1981 and graduated from Flagler-Palm Coast High School in 1990, said he has a passion for working with children and helping them achieve their goals.
"I have been at Flagler-Palm Coast High School since 2000, where I have grown to be the teacher I am today," he said. "My goal every year is to be a teacher that builds relationships and leaves a mark on each student's life."
Gambone will go on to Florida's Teacher of the Year Program which engages educators in a year of professional development, learning and active collaboration through the Florida Teacher Lead Network; connects them with an alumni network to further their skill set; and provides opportunities to work with others, according to the Florida Department of Education.
Employee of the Year
Judy Gallo was "totally shocked" when her name was called as the Flagler County School District's Employee of the Year.
"You know, it's funny, you say that it means something. I feel like I'm just doing my job," Gallo said. "You know I'm just doing my job, but it's like wonderful, I guess to be appreciated. Not that I ever thought that I wasn't."
Gallo is the area manager for Flagler County Schools Food and Nutritional Services. She's lived in Palm Coast for 27 years and has had two children graduate from the Flagler County School District.
"Our Employee of the Year is always the first to volunteer. They're creative, they're so caring and concerned about their other employees," Mittlestadt said. "This employee has a unique pedigree and they've been in all our buildings at one time serving others from our kids to our staff. That's pretty special to work in every building."
Gallo's career in food services began at Bunnell Elementary and most recently she's worked at Flagler-Palm Coast High School.
"The common denominator is the students eat to fuel their brains and bodies to get through the school day," she said. "I try to provide food for their bellies, food for thought and food for the soul."
Principal of the Year
Cara Cronk of Buddy Taylor Middle School was named Principal of the Year Thursday evening.
"After finding out I was the recipient of this award I started reflecting on all the heroes in my life and God's placed some pretty amazing heroes on my path, many of whom are in this room and many are watching online," Cronk said. "As I look out in this auditorium, I am in awe of the heroes filling this place who routinely saved the day for our children, families and each other."
Cronk joined Flagler County Schools in 2004. She first served as assistant principal for two years each at Buddy Taylor Elementary and Matanzas High School. She was also a literary coach, teacher support colleague and teacher at Indian Trails Middle School.
She was named Assistant Principal of the Year in 2018 and Teacher of the Year finalist in 2012.
Assistant Principal of the Year
Amy Neuenfeldt of Indian Trails Middle School was named Assistant Principal of the Year.
"Being a part of education is more than a job or a career. It's a lifestyle," she said. "Tonight, we honor each of you as heroes in education. We think of heroes in our lives, many times even people who have inspired us along the way. I would not be here if it wasn't for my family, our educational community and the collaboration I've had with great teachers, employees and leaders."
Neuenfeldt has been assistant principal since 2017 and has worked with the district since 2003. During her time at the district, she's been a teacher, reading coach and a teacher support colleague.
Nikki Ross covers K-12 education, health and COVID-19 for the Daytona Beach News-Journal. She can be reached at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @nikkiinreallife.
This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: Flagler Teacher of the Year: FPCHS math teacher Jim Gambone