SARASOTA, May 13, 2015 — Charles Brown, a
bus driver and active volunteer with the school district and community
organizations, was named the Sarasota County School District’s 2015 School-Related
Employee of the Year at a luncheon May 13 at Michael’s on East in
Sarasota. As the winner he will enjoy the personal use of a slightly smaller
vehicle than a school bus for the next year, but with better gas mileage: a
2015 Prius provided by the event’s lead sponsor, Germain Toyota of
Brown, known by his friends and colleagues as
Charlie, was named from among 48 nominees selected from the approximately 2,100
support staff members who work throughout the district’s schools and
departments. All nominees were honored at the luncheon.
After his retirement from Gold Coast Eagle
Distributing, Brown began a new career as a
school bus driver in 2012. Three years later, he is being honored by his
colleagues as the top non-instructional employee in the school district. In his
acceptance speech, Brown said, “This is such an honor. I’m overwhelmed. All of
us who work with the schools have a passion for what we do. I love the job; I
get to go to different schools and see lots of students. Thank you so much!”
As a utility driver, Brown
is responsible for driving the route of any absent school bus driver or
attendant, sometimes with only a moment’s notice. In his letter nominating
Brown as the district’s School-Related Employee of the Year, Transportation
Director of Transportation Ellery Girard wrote, “Charlie never complains about
the routes he is assigned. He can work in any part of the county with any kind
of students of any age. When we hire new drivers, we often have Charlie mentor
them. He helps them with directions, student-management skills and many other
Brown mentored a student
from elementary school to his 2012 graduation from Riverview High and currently
mentors a student at Tuttle Elementary. He served as chairman of the School
Advisory Council at Sarasota Middle School and was named that school’s Senior
Volunteer of the Year in 2013. He serves on the Sarasota Community Board of Directors
of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast and was on the board of the
Sarasota Coalition of Substance Abuse from 2008-12.
In April 2009 Brown married
Jan Ehart at a unique ceremony at Sarasota Middle, where Ehart was then a
teacher. The wedding took place during the school’s annual Civil War
encampment, a project Brown and Ehart initiated to help students learn more
about American history. About 100 friends,
colleagues, students and other well-wishers witnessed the couple exchange vows
and emerge from the ceremony under an arch of crossed bayonets and swords.
In 2013 when he was driving a bus for Phillipp
Shores Elementary School, Brown and Ehart began collecting Box Tops for
Education to help a classroom of children with special needs get additional
resources. Although he no longer drives regularly for Phillippi Shores, Brown
and Ehart still collect box tops for the school and ask their friends and
relatives to collect them, too.
Shannon Haddad, a speech pathologist at Phillippi
Shores, said “As a bus driver parents always commented on how kind, respectful
and genuinely wonderful he was to their children. Safety was always his
number-one priority and he was an advocate for all his students. When he came
back to our school on assignments as a utility driver, students would see him,
hug him and yell out cheers for Mr. Brown.”
the School-Related Employee of the Year Program
As with the district’s Teacher of the Year
designation, many worthy support staff members vie for the title of
School-Related Employee of the Year. All employees who are not teachers or
administrators are eligible to be nominated, including teacher’s aides,
clerical workers, bus drivers, food service workers, custodians and
groundskeepers, to name a few.
After the School-Related Employee of the
Year is announced at the luncheon, he or she becomes a goodwill ambassador for
the district and represents the school district as a candidate for the statewide
Alvis-Greenwald, the district’s 2014 School-Related Employee of the Year and a
finalist for the state-level award, was on hand at the luncheon to pass the
torch to the 2015 honoree. Alvis-Greenwald is the administrative assistant to
the principal of Booker Middle School.
the ninth consecutive year, the Lead Sponsor of the School-Related Employee of
the Year program is Germain Toyota of Sarasota. The dealership honors all district
employees through its sponsorship of the program and by providing the use of a 2015
Prius for a year for the district’s School-Related Employee of the Year.
The event’s Platinum Sponsors are
the School District Administrators organization, the School Based
Administrators organization, Florida Blue, Harvard Jolly Architects, ProFloors
and Tandem Construction.
Gold Sponsors are the Education Foundation of Sarasota County, Jon
F. Swift, Inc., McIntyre Elwell & Strammer General Contractors, Inc., Neal Communities, PDQ
Sarasota, Tampa Bay Trane and
Sponsors are Humana, Magnum Builders, Marker 4 Restaurant, Pennsylvania Steel
Company, Publix Supermarkets, Re-Ex
Insurance Brokers and Springer-Peterson Roofing.
Friends of the event are
Sights and Sounds A.V. Inc., the Sarasota
Classified/Teachers Association and the Sarasota
County Association of Educational Office Professionals.
Booker High School music students will provide entertainment
at the luncheon; additional BHS students will photograph the event. Venice
Middle School Young Marines will present the colors and assist with seating the
honorees and guests. The Education Channel (Comcast 20, Verizon FiOS 33) will
record the event for a future broadcast. School District support staff
employee of Sarasota County School District makes a difference in the lives of
children. Here are a few examples of the many jobs performed by district
- Of the school district’s 4,925 employees, 2,656
are teachers, 192 are administrators and 2,077 are support staff.
- Teachers’ aides help instructors implement classroom
activities and assist more than 41,200 students accomplish their assigned
- Bus drivers transport 18,000 students daily and drive
5.5 million miles each year to get students to and from school and home.
- Food service workers serve 6 million meals annually —
more than any restaurant in Sarasota County.
- Custodians clean about 8.5 million square feet of
- Clerical staff members perform a variety of duties
including answering phone calls from parents, applicants, volunteers and
- Groundskeepers maintain more than 1,500 acres at
schools and district facilities.