It's the season when the Pinellas County School District celebrates its top employees, and the "support employees" are featured this week.
One of nine finalists will be announced as the Support Employee of the Year in a breakfast Friday at Feather Sound Country Club. The contenders were chosen in three categories based on how much contact they have with students.
In the "direct involvement" category, for those who spend at least 75 percent of their workday with students, the finalists are Kerry Afflitto, a clerk at Bayside High School; Mary MacEwen, a teacher assistant at 74th Street Elementary; and Renee St. Onge, an exceptional student education associate at Brooker Creek Elementary.
In the "indirect involvement" category, for employees who spend less than 25 percent of their time with students, the finalists are Cathlene Burcham, a data management technician at Career Academies of Seminole; Sandra Frazier, cafeteria manager at Paul B. Stephens Exceptional Education Center; and Reginald Rhett, a clerk at Morgan Fitzgerald Middle School.
The final category, "limited involvement," recognizes employees who have little or no direct contact with students during work hours. Those finalists are Karen Barnett, family and community liaison at Dunedin Elementary; Donna Crosby, a secretary in the PreK-12 Performing Arts department; and Carol Syvrud, a transcriber assistant for the visually impaired at Forest Lakes Elementary.
The finalists were chosen from 79 nominees. Friday's ceremony follows a second round of judging, with winners to be announced in each category. An overall winner will be announced, and will be considered in a statewide recognition program. The Pinellas program is sponsored by Achieva Credit Union.