Flagler Schools held its annual Teacher, Employee, and Rookie Teacher of the Year Gala on January 18 at the Flagler Auditorium in Palm Coast. It was a packed evening, with a parade of finalists from each campus.

Additionally, the previously announced winners of Principal of the Year and Assistant Principal of the Year also were recognized. This year’s honorees for that honor hailed from Bunnell Elementary School. Marcus Sanfilippo is the District’s Principal of the Year, and Donelle Evensen is the Assistant Principal of the Year.

“BES is making significant strides coming out of the pandemic, and Marcus and Donelle are two of the reasons this is happening,” said Flagler Schools Superintendent Cathy Mittelstadt. “The two of them have also worked together to re-engage the people of the Bunnell area with their community school, and that involvement is paramount to achieving success.”

Sanfilippo and Evensen are no strangers to the “of the Year” honors in Flagler Schools.

Sanfilippo was the 2007 District Teacher of the Year when he was a teacher at Buddy Taylor Middle School. He was named the District Assistant Principal of the Year in 2015 when he was at Indian Trails Middle School. This is his seventh year leading BES. How did he get here? It’s been a journey.

“I think just being part of a great team, the team here at BES with the wonderful support of our assistant principals, support from the district, and just being under other great leaders, having people model what it means to be a leader, and then just trying to exemplify that and live that out within the district,” Sanfilippo said.

Donelle EvensenDonelle Evensen

Marcus SanfilippoMarcus Sanfilippo

Evensen is in her fourth year as assistant principal at BES. She was the 2019 District Teacher of the Year when she was at Rymfire Elementary. Reflecting on this most recent honor, Evensen said. “My goal as an assistant principal is to be supportive and be there for the teachers and students as much as possible in order to help them reach their potential. This is just a little validation that I’m on the right track.”

Lee WinfreeLee Winfree

Renee BerryRenee Berry

The January gala was highlighted with the announcement of Lee Winfree, a math teacher at Matanzas High School, as the District Teacher of the Year. He has been teaching for 22 years, with half of that time spent in Flagler County. He’s taught AP Calculus, AP Statistics and Probability and Statistics. He has also taught a pair of dual enrollment classes through Daytona State College.

Winfree is a graduate of the University of Maine and has a Master of Science in Education from Walden University and a Master of Science in Mathematical Science from the University of West Florida. His reaction to being named the top educator in Flagler County? “Gratitude. Appreciation. Surprised. I think all of us want to win it. We don’t expect to win it because we know how amazing all the teachers here are in Flagler County.”

Renee Berry, a secretary for Flagler Schools custodial services, was named Employee of the Year. Originally from Texas, she moved to Flagler County in 2009 to be closer to family. She began working for Flagler Schools as a testing coordinator with Flagler Technical College, then transferred in 2015 to Custodial Services as its department secretary.

When she heard her name called, she said it was “thrilling…but very humbling. I’m used to being behind the scenes, making sure everything is just right.” She went on to say, “To me, it means it’s not unnoticed. No matter how much you may think you’re not appreciated or how much you work and you think they didn’t see it…they do. They do notice you.”

Berry, Evensen, Sanfilippo and Winfree will now represent Flagler Schools for the statewide honors.