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Ida S. Baker

Ida S. Baker was an educator known for her pioneering spirit and devotion to students. She made tremendous efforts in her school and community to support diverse students and encourage their academic success.

In her honor, each school site may nominate an individual who they think embodies the pioneering spirit of Ms. Ida Baker, the first African American appointed to be Deputy Superintendent in the Florida Department of Education.  Educators are recognized for going above and beyond to meet the needs of our diverse student population.

Ms. Baker was also one of the first African American women to serve as a principal in Lee County. There is a high school named for her in Cape Coral.

Presenting Sponsor - Amscot Financial

 Congratulations to our 2014 Ida S. Baker
Diversity Educator of the Year finalists!

Evan Davis – Armwood High

Evan Davis is a graduate of Armwood High School’s class of 2004. He was awarded an academic scholarship to the University of South Florida: where he was able to graduate in three years with a Bachelor of Science with emphasis in History & Political Science. Evan has been teaching at Armwood for six years and has been a coach for the football team since the 2006 season. While in college, he came back to tutor student-athletes and developed a vision of seeing every student succeed. This year Evan has been able to put together a student-athlete tutoring program, where the students in the National Honor Society come back and tutor athletes twice a week for two hours. This interaction of the top students with other students, who might have never crossed paths, has been a bright spot in the Armwood culture. 

Jeff Ditman – Gaither High

Jeff Ditman grew up in Duluth, Minnesota and attended Denfeld High School where he participated in athletics as well as the chorus program.  He went on to major in History at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, graduating in 2002.  This is Mr. Ditman's 4th year teaching, all in Hillsborough County.  He lives in Seffner with his wife Denise and their 5 month old son Jonathan.


Melisa Toothman – Plant High 

Melisa Toothman graduated from University of Florida with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Science in Family, Youth, and Community Sciences. She has been teaching in Hillsborough County for 7 years. At work she is most proud of the fact that her principal trusted her and her co teacher enough to allow an AP Language and Composition FUSE class so that the College Board's policy of open and equal access could truly be implemented at her school. At home she is most proud of being a mom to Lilian and Henry and a wife to Kevin.


Kathleen Wasserman, Franklin Boys Preparatory Academy 

Kathy Wasserman and her husband Stu have raised three beautiful children here in the Tampa Bay Area.  Kathy first received her Master of Science in Education through the Urban Teacher Preparation Grant Program at Syracuse University in 1987. During her tenure at Community School # 64 in the Bronx, she decided to take a few classes so that she could learn strategies for working with some of the students in her class who had special needs.  Her quest led to the completion of her second Master of Science Degree – this time in the field of Special Education. Kathy taught in both public and private school settings. She joined Hillsborough County as an ESE teacher and currently works at Franklin Boys Preparatory Academy. Since research concludes that boys love competition, one of the many programs she created and implemented at Franklin is the “Men to BEAT” Program where the students race to see who has the most correct math answers. The winner gets his name, picture and score posted on a special wall until that score is exceeded by another student. In addition to creating new programs, Kathy also meets students before and after school and has given up her planning period all year to tutor students who fall into the lower quartile. Kathy’s “Can Do” attitude is contagious among the staff and students and as a result, improves the school culture daily. As an educator, her goal is to teach students to have faith in themselves.  Kathy says it is then, that they can accomplish anything!


Congratulations to the 2014 Ida S. Baker Diversity Educator of the Year!

Julia Sarmiento, Shields Middle School

Julia Sarmiento is the proud product of the School District of Hillsborough County School System. She attended Wimauma Elementary, Eisenhower Middle School and graduated from East Bay High School. She received her Bachelors of Arts in English and American Literature from the University of South Florida and is currently enrolled in the Educational Leadership Graduate Degree Program at the University.  Julia began her teaching career at Dr. Earl J. Lennard High school in 2006 and taught English and T.V Productions there for 6 years. Currently, she is the Student Intervention Specialist at Shields Middle School working with at risk youth and the Program Coordinator for The Shields Leadership Program at her school. At night she continues her desire to impact at risk youth by working for Lennard Adult and Community School. She is proud to teach and serve in the community she grew up in. Julia is an active member of her community and sits on various Boards of Directors in hopes of being a positive voice for the people of her community. Julia currently lives in Apollo Beach with the love of her life Matthew and their two children Julian and Sofia.

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