WEST PALM BEACH — Just because Susan Lemieux teaches math to gifted third- and fourth-grade students doesn't mean she can't have fun.
Lemieux, after all, once let her school's principal shave her hair into a Mohawk for a fundraising project.
But Lemieux, who teaches at the Weiss School in Palm Beach Gardens, wasn't honored tonight with a Dwyer Award at the Kravis Center for her odd hairstyle choice.
A former North Palm Beach County Teacher of the Year, Lemieux won in the special programs category.
"The cornerstone of my educational philosophy is the belief that every student can learn and any obstacle can be overcome," Lemieux wrote in her nomination application.
Each year the Dwyer Awards are given in five categories - elementary education, middle school, senior high school, career education and special programs.
The annual awards from the Economic Council of Palm Beach County and the Education Foundation of Palm Beach County honor exceptional public and private school teachers.
In addition to teaching her class, Lemieux is head of the elementary math department. She also maintains the Edline page for the school.
Lemieux is just as busy outside the classroom. Seven years ago she helped a family of seven special needs children get an extreme makeover for their home.
Another winner was Brian Thomas, a biology teacher at Okeeheelee Middle in Greenacres. Thomas, whose goal is to turn students into "walking miracles," said he was "honored and humbled" to have won.
"It's great to be among so many wonderful individuals," Thomas said.
This year 200 teachers were nominated, with 25 becoming finalists.
The other Dwyer winners are:
In the elementary category, Vicki Hutchinson of Beacon Cove Intermediate in Jupiter. Hutchinson has been teaching for 23 years in Palm Beach County and has served as a mentor for other teachers as well.
For senior high, Nicole Dougherty of Santaluces Community High in Lantana. Dougherty is a biology and chemistry teacher who was a curriculum designer and instructor for the "Chemistry on Tour" science FCAT review program.
In career education, Meg Reller of Jupiter High. Reller has 25 years of experience teaching health and physical education. Her motto: "A teacher's job is to open the door … a student's job is to walk through it."