CLEARWATER — The kids say she is a radiant woman who always spices up their lessons. They value her knowledge and are glad they know her.
On Wednesday, Lisa Fagan-Brown, a library information specialist at James B. Sanderlin Elementary IB World School, added one more thing to the list of what her students will say about her.
Pinellas County school superintendent Julie Janssen named Fagan-Brown the Outstanding Educator for 2010 — the district's top honor.
Fagan-Brown accepted the award amid cheers that echoed through Ruth Eckerd Hall. The crowd gave her a standing ovation.
"I don't think there's words that can describe it," she said after thanking her family and those who supported her.
Fagan-Brown, a University of South Florida graduate, got a bachelor's degree in elementary education in 1991. In 1997, she got a master's in instructional technology.
She joined the district in 1992, first at Richard L. Sanders School, then at Blanton Elementary as the network technology manager. In 1997, she went to Brooker Creek Elementary and then a district office.
In 2004, she landed at Sanderlin. "It's the best school in Pinellas County," she said.
Fagan-Brown does more than just run the school's library, which her students call the "Hub of Inquiry."
Fagan-Brown, 45, also prepares students for the district-wide Battle of the Books, leads the Principal's Multicultural Advisory Student Committee and initiated a girls' social club.
"I've known Lisa a long time. She's always been a divergent thinker, always looking for a new way to do things," said Sanderlin principal Denise Miller, who was one of Fagan-Brown's college professors. "She has kids doing things that people wouldn't think they could,"
For months, Fagan-Brown has been walking around with a card a third-grade student gave her last year. Inside is a handwritten message: "Thank you for giving me hope and believing in me."
The card, like Wednesday's ceremony, was overwhelming, Fagan-Brown said. Both made her cry. "Teachers don't get enough of this," she said.
This morning, Fagan-Brown's students will witness her being treated like royalty. She'll get a limo ride to and from school.
Fagan-Brown wasn't the only person honored at Wednesday's event. Several other teachers, business leaders and educators also got awards.
Janssen named Brian Waggoner as the Superintendent's Unsung Hero for 2010. The award goes to family members who support a teacher's success.
Waggoner got the award because of his dedication to his wife, Largo High School teacher Tamara Evansen-Waggoner, a longtime reading teacher who was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer in April.
Throughout her treatment, Waggoner helped his wife with her lesson plans, took her to and from district trainings and helped her with grading papers when she was too sick.
"I'm not the hero, really," said Waggoner, 38. "It's her."
This year, 92 teachers were nominated for the Outstanding Educator award. Judges visited classrooms and conducted interviews, picking 14 finalists.
Kameel Stanley can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8643.