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Kristy Garrard was named the Lafayette County Schools’ School-Related Employee of the Year.

MAYO — Looking to make a difference, Kristy Garrard has done just that for the Lafayette County Schools.

Garrard was named the district’s School-Related Employee of the Year, receiving flowers and congratulations for the honor Jan. 14.

“(I’m) very honored to receive this award and grateful for the opportunity to represent Lafayette County Schools,” Garrard said after being chosen.

Garrard began her education career in 1994 when she joined the non-profit The White Foundation, which allowed her spending extra 1-on-1 time with students.

After The White Foundation, Garrard worked for the Florida Department of Children and Families for five years as a receptionist.

However, her love of education and working with students led to her being hired with the Lafayette County Schools in 2005 as a paraprofessional, mainly working with a non-verbal autistic student. Garrard continued to work with that student throughout her time in the school district, even helping the student learn sign language.

“We have a very small community here in Lafayette County so when you hear someone say, ‘it takes a village,’ that is truly the mentality that we have in our school system,” Garrard wrote in her nomination letter. “I love my job and want to make a difference. This desire translates into the feeling that I need to do more than just the daily requirements of my job. I want to help in the many facets of this village so that everyone has the opportunity to succeed in whatever they may choose for their future, just like I have had the opportunity to learn and grow in my career.”

Garrard went on to accept a position to run the poly com classes for dual enrolled students in 2016. This month she became administrative support for Lafayette High School Principal Stewart Hancock.

“We have so many employees in the Lafayette School system who give 110% every single day, so knowing that someone thought of me for this honor is one of the most amazing feelings in the world,” she added in her letter. “Regardless of the outcome, I will still strive each and every day to provide an environment to make a difference so that someone will have the same opportunity as I did to achieve their dreams.”

Superintendent Robby Edwards said: “There is no doubt that Lafayette County School District is filled with great staff and students, but I am honored to be able to award Kristy Garrard with this award, because she truly deserves it.”

Kara M. Compo is a reporter for the Suwannee Democrat, Jasper News and Mayo Free Press. Her beats include general assignment, government, politics, law enforcement and first responders. ​

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