President of Rotary Club of Brooksville, Sharon Twyman, has now added yet another impressive title to her resume. She has been named the Florida Retired Educators Association’s 2022 District 6 Volunteer of the Year. FREA District 6 includes retired teachers from Hernando, Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. The honor was announced at the Florida Retired Educators Annual Convention on May 24-26 at the Orlando Hilton Doubletree at SeaWorld.
Established in 1954, the Florida Retired Educators Association exists to safeguard the strength of the Florida retirement system, to support public education in Florida, to provide fellowship opportunities, to encourage community involvement, and to be a source of information and materials.
Twyman, whose 20-year teaching career included teaching jobs at Spring Hill Elementary, Deltona Elementary and Challenger K-8 schools in the Hernando school district, was lauded for a yearlong record of 183 hours of service. And while her volunteer work is greatly varied in character, her motivation for these labors remains all and always the same. She shared, “I missed working with children and families. I wanted to give back to the students, be helpful to their families.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, a good deal of Twyman’s work has been conducted in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Brooksville. “I volunteer in classrooms and with several different organizations,” said Twyman, who retired from teaching in 2016. Among Twyman’s favorite projects is the Third Grade Dictionary Distribution. “In the Rotary, we give a dictionary to every third-grader in Hernando,” she explained. “We do the distribution through a fun event called The Dictionary Dig. The kids know we’re coming and are always excited.”
These specialized dictionaries also include geographic facts such as the names of state capitals, and even multiplication tables. Twyman shared, “For some of these kids this is the only book they have at home.”
She also has contributed valuable volunteer hours to Rotary’s Adopt-A-Highway, Blueberry Festival, Family Fun Day, Feeding Tampa Bay Food Distribution, and Human Trafficking Symposium programs.As a part of the Hernando County Education Foundation, she serves on committees to select the Teacher of the Year and School Related Employee of the Year. And, as a member of Hernando County Retired Educators, she helps oversee the 5th Grade Writing contest. “It’s a remarkable experience, reading these essays,” she said.
At Challenger K8 School of Math & Science, she serves as a Kindergarten Computer Testing Monitor. “Many of these kids are new to computers,” she said. Twyman’s educational volunteerism seems to be an extension of her teaching career. “I was working in the business world when our first daughter was about to start kindergarten. My working hours didn’t match her school hours, so I applied for a position of a paraprofessional at her elementary school. I quickly realized how much I enjoyed being in a classroom helping students,” she continued. “Another para and myself began carpooling in the evenings to take educational classes. She is still working at the same elementary school. My husband’s job transferred us to Hernando County, that is when I began teaching at SHES in 1994.”
As a retired teacher, Twyman loves to meet former students who tell her that she made a difference in their lives. As a volunteer, she loves to deliver a dictionary to a child who tells her that their big sister or brother still owns their own Rotary dictionary gift.
Outside the school system, she also serves the Ability Tree in Hernando, whose mission is to come alongside families impacted by disability and equip organizations through recreation, education, support, and training,” through participation in Parents Night Out, community council meetings and fundraising activities. She serves Crosspoint Church through the Take Them A Meal program, and she performs office work every Wednesday at the church.
In qualifying for this honor, Twyman accrued glowing letters of recommendation from area luminaries in the education field. Tina Cordova, executive director of Ability Tree Florida, describes Sharon Twyman as “a memorable former educator and one who currently serves her community in a variety of ways.” Tina continues on sharing, “ I would consider Sharon a leader and a dedicated liaison for the community as a whole. She devotes her time to bring awareness and betterment for children, schools, and some local community organizations as well.” Director of Children’s Advocacy Center of Hernando County, Janine Kell, stated, “Students and faculty within each school she visits love her because she is kind, loving, fun, and cares about them.” And April Johnson-Spence, past president of the Rotary Club of Brooksville, stated, “She is always the first one to step up and volunteer to serve.” Sharon Twyman states that it’s all for the kids. “It’s so rewarding to see the light bulb go on in their heads and watch their growth,” she said. “I fell in love with my second career.”