EC Teacher of the Year


Robin Foster, Polk County Middle School

"Students don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."

This is a quote that frequently reverberates in my mind. I strive to convey to students that I care about them as individuals and my philosophy is that teaching is a service to students. Each student is unique and has strengths that can be nurtured and refined. As an educator, my mission is to teach, support and encourage students with the hope that they will become intrinsically motivated, lifelong learners. I began my career at the Charles Lea Center in Spartanburg, S.C. and have taught in Polk County Schools for twenty cumulative years. Opportunities I have had as an educator include elementary, middle, and high school positions of self-contained, resource, and co-teaching models. Currently, I co-teach ELA and math in the 7th grade at PCMS. National Board certification, a Master's degree, years of experience and various professional development have all positively impacted my ability to assist students. It is a privilege to be a part of students' lives and I am honored to teach in Polk County Schools.

Robin receiving her award at the 2016 Annual EC Conference in Greensboro, NC.


Denise Kennedy, Polk County Middle School

In the course of Denise's teaching career (over 15 years), she has had the privilege of teaching students of all ability levels and all age levels. Working with students with low-incidence disabilities has always been a passion for Denise. In addition to classroom teaching, she has directed residential summer camp sessions for children and adults with significant disabilities, taught swim lessons, and been involved in numerous grant-funded projects that provided a way for her students to think and get "out of the box" (i.e., their EC classroom).

Currently Denise teaches EC (Extra Cool) students at Polk County Middle School. She has an awesome group of students and tremendous support from her principal and EC director and staff, all of which make her "job" pure joy!

Denise receiving her award at the 2015 Annual EC Conference in Greensboro, NC.


Lyla Johnson, Polk Central Elementary

My name is Lyla Johnson. I am a Polk County native and a proud product of the Polk County School system. I am the adapted curriculum exceptional children’s teacher at Polk Central Elementary. I received a bachelor’s degree in special education/communication disorders from Western Carolina University and a Masters degree in Special education adapted curriculum from UNC-Charlotte. I began my special educator journey many years ago, but began teaching in the school system in 2008 at Polk County Middle school as an assistant. I came to Polk Central as a lead teacher in 2010 and have been here ever since. Teaching children with exceptional needs is far more than a job to me. I care about each one of my students as if they were my own children. Speaking of my own children, I live here in Polk County with my two daughters ages six and two. My oldest daughter is a student here at Polk Central and we enjoy being a part of this school and the community.