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Karen Epst ein Wins Top County Award For Educators

Wellington Landings Teacher impressed by the accomplishments of other nominees and finalists. “There are some amazing teachers in Palm Beach County,” Epstein said. “I was awestruck to hear the credentials of the other teachers.” It’s a distinct honor to win a Dwyer Award, as nearly 350 Palm Beach County teachers were nominated for the award this year. From there, usually five or six educators per category are named as finalists. The winner of each award is selected by a committee of nearly 80 local business leaders. According to Wellington Landings Middle School Principal Blake Bennett, Epstein is a worthy Dwyer Award winner. “Karen Epstein is so dedicated to her students, improving our community and spreading kindness. She works so hard to make sure she meets the needs of all of her students while teaching so much more than curriculum, but how to be productive citizens, while promoting a love of life-long learning,” said Bennett, who just finished her eighth year as the school’s principal. “There is nothing she can’t or won’t do. She had 86 students perform in our play this year, Willy Wonka Jr. Not many people can coordinate 86 middle school students for months to put on an absolutely phenomenal musical that is a great experience for all involved.” Bennett appreciates Epstein’s work both in and out of the classroom. “She also makes sure that the culture of our school is always addressed, from her production of our video announcements to her participation in our Gold Level Model Positive Behavior Support Team, and working with our Kindness

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“It’s important to have a sense of humor, a kind spirit, and be willing to listen to the students when they need someone to talk to about their issues and concerns,” Wellington Landings Middle School teacher Karen Epstein explained. Ambassadors all over our school and community,” Bennett said of Epstein. “I could never sum up everything she does in a nutshell. She never stops working for her students and our school.” Epstein, who graduated from Forest Hill High School, attributes her success to a willingness to listen to her students and show some compassion for them. “I’m really more of a facilitator than a teacher,” said Epstein, herself a mother of three. “I let them find their own path. I have a mix of taught routines and class expectations. It’s important to have a sense of humor, a kind spirit, and be willing to listen to the students when they need someone to talk to about their issues and concerns.” Epstein realized that she was a little different after being diagnosed with dys-

lexia as a teenager, which negatively impacted her interest in reading, but not her interest in learning. “My interest in science fiction led me to science, which helped me with math and reading,” she explained. While Epstein has had great success as a teacher, becoming a teacher was not her initial focus. “While in college, I majored in everything at least once — journalism, astronomy, criminal justice, theater, to name a few,” Epstein explained. In the end, she settled on a business degree, based on advice from one of her grandfathers. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach and her master’s degree in business administration from Walden University. Her teaching certification is in special education (K-12), business education (K-12) and middle grades integrated curriculum. Wellington Landings Middle School has a track record of producing Dwyer Award-winning teachers, including Sandra Coster in 2008 and Ron Wilber in 2013. Besides Epstein, two other Wellington teachers were finalists for this year’s Dwyer Awards: Kathy Zangen from Binks Forest Elementary School in the Elementary School Education category and Tracy Sheppard from Elbridge Gale Elementary School in the STEM Education category. They each received $500 and a certificate. What did Epstein do with her award money? “Well, I had to pay my bills, and then I had my car professionally cleaned and detailed,” Epstein said.

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Wellington The Magazine August 2019  

ON THE COVER Participation from local youth helped Wellington take first place in the 2019 Let’s Move challenge sponsored by the Palm Healt...

Wellington The Magazine August 2019  

ON THE COVER Participation from local youth helped Wellington take first place in the 2019 Let’s Move challenge sponsored by the Palm Healt...