2024 Finalists Announced For William T. Dwyer Awards

The Economic Council of Palm Beach County Foundation this week unveiled 28 finalists for the William T. Dwyer Awards for Excellence in Education, presented by the Hanley Foundation.

The finalists will celebrate with a picturesque waterside reception at M/Y Café at Rybovich Marina on April 23, hosted by Huizenga Holdings. The award recipients will be announced and honored along with all finalists, nominees and past recipients at the Dwyer Awards ceremony on Tuesday, May 14 in Dreyfoos Hall at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts.

“As we mark four decades of the William T. Dwyer Awards, we celebrate the dedication and impact of educators who shape our community’s future,” said Michele Jacobs, president and CEO of the Economic Council of Palm Beach County. “The event highlights the tireless dedication of educators who go above and beyond to ensure that every student thrives.”

Several educators from the western communities were named among the finalists, including Cathy Eckstein of Wellington Elementary School in the Grow Up Great: Early Elementary Education category; Brandie Soto of Binks Forest Elementary School in the Elementary Education category; Molly Harding of Frontier Elementary School in the STEM Education category; and Mary Leatherman of Emerald Cove Middle School in the Student Support & Advancement category.

“The Hanley Foundation is proud to celebrate the 40-year anniversary of the Dwyer Awards,” said Dr. Rachel Docekal, CEO of Hanley Foundation. “This year marks Hanley’s ninth year as presenting sponsor of this important community event that recognizes dedicated teachers and talented students across the county. We are honored to partner alongside these amazing individuals every day in our mission to eliminate addiction through prevention education programming and beyond.”

The Dwyer Awards, an annual program developed in 1984 and supported by the Economic Council of Palm Beach County, honors outstanding educators from public and private schools in Palm Beach County with a reception, ceremony and financial recognition. The program seeks to increase awareness of the exemplary teaching in the community and promote high standards of excellence in education.

The Economic Council, comprised of business leaders deeply committed to fostering educational excellence, received nearly 450 nominations for the 2024 Dwyer Awards. Each nominee underwent a rigorous evaluation process by almost 100 prominent business leaders from Palm Beach County. This meticulous judging procedure culminated in selecting the 28 finalists across seven distinct categories, eventually recognizing seven winners, one from each category. The seven categories for the 2024 Dwyer Awards include: Grow Up Great: Early Learning Education, Elementary Education, Middle School Education, Senior High School Education, STEM Education, Exceptional Education, and Student Support & Advancement.

Felicia Rodriguez, anchor at WPBF 25, will serve as emcee. Tickets to attend the 40th Annual William T. Dwyer Awards for Excellence in Education are $45 each. Guests will enjoy a cocktail reception at 5:30 p.m. and the awards ceremony at 7 p.m. Learn more at www.economiccouncilpbc.org.


Grow Up Great: Early Elementary Education — Cathy Eckstein, Wellington Elementary School; Cindy Fakhoury, Lake Worth High School-Little Trojans Preschool; Heather Orloski, Citrus Cove Elementary School; and Nathalee English, Liberty Park Elementary.

Elementary Education — Megan Betancourt, Sandpiper Shores Elementary; Brandie Soto, Binks Forest Elementary; Lois Gray, Seminole Trails Elementary; and David Allen-LoCaputo, Liberty Park Elementary.

Middle School Education — Shakendra Moorer, Bak Middle School; Kristen Karvonen, Palm Springs Middle School; Amy Finneran, Boca Raton Middle School; and Shannon Solis, Village Academy.

Senior High Education — Nayyat Bogosyan, Spanish River High School; Kimberly Coyle, Olympic Heights High School; Stacy Stephens-Miller, Atlantic High School; and Wendy Dublin, Park Vista High School.

Stem Education — Cheryl Huey, Jupiter Middle School; William Colman, Howell L. Watkins Middle School; Claudia Chavarria, Pioneer Park Elementary; and Molly Harding, Frontier Elementary.

Exceptional Education — Chelsey Carr, Lake Worth Middle School; Rita Wicks, Lantana Elementary School; Julie Bee, Allamanda Elementary School; and Jessica Maharrey, Palm Springs Middle School.

Student Support & Advancement — Olga Middleton, Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts; Lori Landes, Omni Middle School; Jessica Bayani, Palm Springs Middle School; and Mary Leatherman, Emerald Cove Middle School.

The 2024 Dwyer Awards thank the following sponsors: Presenting Sponsor – Hanley Foundation; Excellence Sponsor – Elmore Family Foundation; Award Sponsors – Comcast, FPL, IT Solutions of South Florida, Mariaca Wealth, PNC Bank and UnitedHealthcare; VIP Reception Sponsor – Huizenga Holdings; Cocktail Reception Sponsors – Pratt & Whitney and Lesser, Lesser, Landy & Smith; Media Sponsor – WPBF; Teacher Tickets Sponsor – Bank of America; Knowledge Sponsors – Blue Ocean Capital, the Breakers, Gunster, Kitson & Partners, Oxbow Carbon and the Weitz Company; Creativity Sponsors – Jones Foster, Max Planck, SBA Communications, Shutts & Bowen and Singer Comiter /Michael Singer; Teacher/Student Ticket Sponsors – 2GHO, CareerSource Palm Beach County, Dr. Dennis Gallon, Keshavarz, M&T Bank, the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida, Tortoise Properties, Urban Design Kilday Studios and Wellington Regional Medical Center.

Established in 1975, the Economic Council of Palm Beach County is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that supports an open and collaborative relationship between the public and private sectors in Palm Beach County. The council’s membership comprises a diverse mix of industries of varying sizes in the area whose leaders have an active and influential role in the community. Learn more about the Economic Council at www.economiccouncilpbc.org.