JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – What’s the key to a good summer?
How about picking up the keys to your new car without having to pay for it?
Mirona Kaczmarczyk, a kindergarten teacher’s aide at Cathedral Parish School in St. Augustine, rolled out of the dealership Friday with a new set of wheels that she won for garnering the most votes in the Hyundai Hometown Heroes car giveaway. The contest was part of the News4JAX Insider membership program which allowed Insiders to nominate and vote for a local educator who they believed deserved a new car.
Over 200 local teachers were nominated and out of 4,800 votes, Kaczmarczyk tallied 823.
“On behalf of the Jacksonville Hyundai dealers, we would like present you, Mrs. Mirona, with a brand new 2022 Tucson,” said Phil Barber, General Manager of Jenkins Hyundai where the key exchange took place.
As Kaczmarczyk received a tour of her new car, she was filled with gratitude. “This moment, I never, never expect. It’s a really big honor for me,” she said fighting back tears.
Affectionately known as Ms. Mirona, parents and staff said she is a key player in inspiring young children at the St. Johns County school, where she is in her 21st year after teaching in her home country of Poland for nearly a decade.
“Kids are very honest and innocent. I think that’s the best part about working with this age for me,” she said.
But she didn’t take all of the credit.
“Thank you, teachers, principal and staff who support me and my craziness!”
Kaczmarczyk encourages imagination in her students by dressing in costumes several times a month.
“It’s fun. Fun for me. It’s my confidence. I really like to do it. I like when parents smile in the morning, when kids smile. Sometimes kids ask me when I’m not dressed up, ‘Ms. Mirona what happened today?’ ‘Oh, nothing, honey. I’m just Ms. Mirona today.’”
Parents said she works hard every day to make sure no child is left behind academically.
“I think any kid that needs help, needs help. I don’t want any kid to be left behind,” she said.
Outside of work, Kaczmarczyk spends her free time helping the homeless by organizing food and clothing drives.
The student’s parent who nominated her wrote in part:
“Mrs. Mirona deserves the world. My daughter refers to Mrs. Mirona as her second mother. She is the perfect role model for the children, and I feel privileged to have Mrs. Mirona at school with my children. She is an angel on Earth.”
Kaczmarczyk said she doesn’t do it for recognition and she is blessed that so many people think so highly of her.
“Coming from Poland, to here, it’s really been something special for me. To know this many parents trust you and love you, and actually accept my craziness, thank you.”
Kaczmarczyk said one of the first places she’s going in her new SUV is to Cathedral Parish School to show students and staff her brand new ride and then she and her husband plan to take their grandkids out for a spin.