Three South Tampa Schools Chosen as Finalists for the 2012 Excellence in Education Awards
A Chiaramonte Elementary teacher, a Lanier Elementary exceptional student education aide, and the Tinker Elementary principal's secretary received a pleasant surprise Friday, Jan. 6.
Three South Tampa elementary schools had reason to celebrate when folks from the Hillsborough Education Foundation showed up Friday, Jan. 6.
The foundation travelled to schools and educational sites around the county to surprise the 15 top-notch educators selected by their peers as finalists for the 2012 Ida S. Baker Diversity Educator of the Year, Instructional Support Employee of the Year, and Teacher of the Year awards.
The awards are meant to recognize the best of the best from Hillsborough County Public Schools.
Chiaramonte Elementary teacher Kelly Kleiner was with her students when the surprise patrol stormed into her classroom and announced that she was selected as one of the five finalists, out of 222 nominees, for the 2012 Ida S. Baker Diversity Educator of the Year award.
Roselle Cronan, marketing manager of Hillsborough Education Foundation, said that this award recognizes educators who serve as role models and improve the educational status of their diverse students.
Kleiner has worked at the school at 6001 S. Himes Ave. in Gandy/Sun Bay South for three years and she currently teaches second grade math and science.
“Kelly connects with her kids,” said Chiaramonte Elementary principal Marie Valenti. “The children just flourish under her guidance.”
At the same time less than two miles away, exceptional student education aide Ryan Johnson was surprised with the news of being one of the five finalists, out of 223 nominees, for the 2012 Instructional Support Employee of the Year award.
“I didn’t expect it at all,” said Johnson, who has worked at Lanier Elementary, 4704 W. Montgomery Ave., for four years and who has been described as an advocate for his students.
Johnson, who works with kids with special needs, said that his aim is to lift his students up and make them feel accomplished.
Also, Kathleen Bennet, the principal’s secretary at Tinker Elementary, received a visit from the surprise patrol.
She, too, was chosen as a finalist for the 2012 Instructional Support Employee of the Year award.
“I am kind of overwhelmed,” Bennet said. “There are so many deserving people in the county.”
Bennet has worked at the school located inside MacDill AFB for 18 years.
In addition to being the principal’s secretary, she is the office manager, bookkeeper, payroll clerk, HR, procurement clerk and point of contact for access to the base, according to Hillsborough Education Foundation.
Nominations for all awards were submitted to Hillsborough County Public Schools by more than 200 area schools.
A winner in each category will be announced at the 2012 Excellence in Education Awards on Feb. 16, at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts in downtown. All 681 nominees and 15 finalists will also be honored during the ceremony.