Panama City, Fla. (WMBB) – Bay Districts Schools’ ‘Teacher of a Lifetime Award’ recipient this year is Mrs. Cynthia McCauley.

From Mosley, to Bay, and now Chautauqua Charter School, she has spent nearly a half a century fostering special needs students so they can succeed beyond school.

State Representative Jay Trumbull, a friend and former student of McCauley’s said, “the unfortunate thing is that in a lot of communities you have folks with disabilities fall through the cracks and you know she has created an atmosphere here where these folks feel like this is their home you know and give them the opportunity to succeed you know outside of the school.”

For the rest of those who attended the ceremony, McCauley was the obvious choice for this honor. And for her, she is just humbled that she came to mind.

“I even had to look up the qualities of good teacher and where did anyone get the idea that that could be me and the first thing I found was that you have to have a love for your students, well I got that, I can positively say I have that and the second was you need to have a love of the subject had I been put to teach anything else I would not have been anything close to successful.”

When McCauley first began teaching special needs students she was mad at the treatment she saw. It sparked a fire in her to make things right in the school system.

That is also part of what makes the Chautauqua school so special. Not only do they learn life skills, but they learn by travel the globe on service trips.

Mrs. McCauley has planned the next one for Antarctica.

McCauley said Chautauqua is successful because the school district has always supported her “crazy” ideas.

School district officials will also announce the teacher of the year, rookie teacher of the year and support employee of the year tomorrow.