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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Marion veteran wins Florida school employee of the year

A retired United States Army veteran who works at an Ocala elementary school was named Florida’s school-related employee of the year this morning, winning $10,000 and a custom trophy.

The Florida Department of Education and Marion County officials awarded Edward Lanza the School-Related Employee of the Year on Monday morning.

The news was shared with Lanza by Superintendent Dr. Diane Gullett at Saddlewood Elementary School, where Lanza has worked for eight years.

Edward Lanza and Marion County Schools Superintendent Dr. Diane Gullett
Edward Lanza (left) and Marion County Schools Superintendent Dr. Diane Gullett (Photo: Marion County Public Schools)

As Florida’s 2024 School-Related Employee of the Year, Lanza receives a  $10,000 cash prize from the department, as well as a custom trophy. School-related employees include a variety of administrative and supportive staff that assist teachers and other educators. They include cafeteria staff, paraprofessionals, custodians, technical support staff, and social workers, among others. 

Lanza assists in the media center, helps students with technology issues and oversees Chromebook distribution among the school’s 1,034 students, was selected from thousands of state-wide nominees.

Edward Lanza
Lanza (center) surrounded by students at Saddlebrook Elementary School. (Photo: Marion County Public Schools)

Last December, Lanza was named the Marion County School-Related Employee of the Year by the Public Education Foundation of Marion County.

Edward Lanza
Edward Lanza won the Florida School-Related Employee of the Year award on Monday morning. (Photo: Marion County Public Schools)

Lanza is the father of a 2021 MCPS Golden Apple teacher. In addition to his school and military service, Lanza has been recognized for his life experiences as a project manager with a Fortune 500 company and former deputy chief in a New York volunteer fire department.

With the award, Marion County has not produced two School-Related Employee of the Year winners in the past decade. In 2016, Abel Garcia, a paraprofessional at Reddick-Collier Elementary School, received the same honor. Garcia now teaches students full-time at Liberty Middle School in Ocala.