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For her outstanding contributions as an elementary and kindergarten teacher, Laura is recognized on the Donors’ Wall of Fame by Southwest Elementary School in Lakeland, Florida.

Laura Verplanck, career educator with 39 and a half years and counting, graduated with her elementary education degree from Michigan State in 1962. She received a masters in “Teaching the Emotionally Disturbed” from the same university in 1966. Mrs. Verplanck’s earliest teaching years began in Arlington Heights, Illinois and East Lansing, Michigan.

She notes that after she moved to Florida with her family, she helped integrate Gainesville schools in 1967. She was selected as one of the first white teachers to teach in an all-black school, before settling in the Lakeland area in 1970 and teaching five years in Mulberry.

Mrs. Verplanck experienced first and second grades prior to nesting in kindergarten in 1973, the very first year that half-day kindergartens were implemented in Polk County.

Mrs. Verplanck transferred to Southwest Elementary in 1975, dedicating all 28 of her 30 kindergarten years (and counting) to South Lakeland community’s youngest learners. She was recognized as Southwest Elementary Teacher of the Year in 1989-1990.

She has lovingly educated over 600 five year olds, building learning foundations, trying shoes, singing the “ABC song,” saying “it’s nap time,” and urging youngsters to be their very best.

The Southwest kindergarten addition, built in 1990, is now dedicated in her name, to represent all that Mrs. Verplanck exemplifies as a master professional educator. All the hard work and care that goes into connecting with each child to help build successful adults, and the collegiality required to promote a quality school environment for our growing children!