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 2013 Ida S. Baker
Diversity Educator of the Year finalists!
Leticia Brull – Dickenson Elementary
Leticia Brull was born in San Juan, P.R., and attended the University of Puerto Rico where she received a B.A. in Elementary Education. After working as a Kindergarten teacher in Puerto Rico she pursued a Master of Arts in Reading Education at the University of South Florida. While continuing her education she worked for HCPS as a bilingual paraprofessional at Dickenson Elementary. For the last five years she has taught first and second grade at Dickenson. During the 2012-2013 school year she was promoted to the ESOL Resource teacher position at this site. She hosts parent meetings and participates in after school activities to promote student and parent involvement. Brull received a grant and started a Limited English Proficiency Extended Learning Program for newcomers that are learning English as a second language. Her philosophy: “Everybody smiles in the same language.”
JoAnna Helak – B.T. Washington Elementary
JoAnna Helak was born in Tampa, and attended Hillsborough County Public Schools. She attended the University of South Florida and earned degrees in Early Childhood and Elementary Education, a master’s in Reading Education, and a Certification in Leadership. Her career began in Hillsborough County Schools teaching Head Start at Meacham Early Childhood Center. Helak has taught for 33 years in 12 Title I schools throughout Hillsborough County. As an educator, her goal is to provide a connection between home, school, and the community. At B.T. Washington, she created and implemented the Hornet’s coupons and the Hornet store to increase participation and reward parents. The parents receive a Hornet’s coupon every time they attend any school event. Also, parents earn a free Hornet’s coupon for reading the school’s newsletter. The Hornet store is open during family events for parents to shop with their coupons. In her job as an Academic Intervention Specialist, she worked very hard to close the achievement gap with her students by listening, caring, and respecting the students that she teaches and understanding their family life and needs. Her goals are to provide each student with reading strategies, techniques, communication skills, and a variety of books to instill the love of reading and to become avid readers.
Stacey P. Hirn – FishHawk Creek Elementary
After receiving her M.A. in Elementary Education from Towson University in 1991, Stacey Hirn began her teaching career at an inner-city school in Baltimore, but left teaching to raise her three children. Hirn returned to the classroom six years ago as a fifth grade Math/Science teacher at Alafia (2007-2009) and then Mintz Elementary (2009-2011). She is currently teaching fourth grade math, science and writing at FishHawk Creek Elementary. One of Hirn’s greatest passions since she has been with HCPS is the creation of an on-campus weekly savings program aimed at teaching young students the value and importance of saving money for the future. In partnership with Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union, the MINT (My Investment New Treasure) encourages students of all grade levels to make weekly deposits into their own personal savings accounts to promote lifelong saving skills. Hirn brings these lessons as well as many others into her interactive classroom by instilling high expectations and love of learning for all students regardless of ability or background.
William Leonard II – Progress Village Middle Magnet
William Leonard II is a graduate of the University of South Florida, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Arts. He has been teaching in Hillsborough County Public Schools for 11 years, all of that time in ESE/EBD at Progress Village Middle Magnet School of the Arts. Next month (April 14th to be exact) he will celebrate his first wedding anniversary with his lovely wife, Charlon. He serves as an Assistant Pastor of Greater St. Paul Baptist Church in Lakeland. William reaches out to educate and encourage young people through mentoring, after-school tutoring, talent expositions, and coordinating classes and activities for the local, district, state, and national conventions of his religious affiliation. He loves singing, playing the piano, and enjoying life’s special moments with his wife and family.
Congratulations to the 2013 Ida S. Baker Diversity Educator of the Year!
Socorrito Claudio, Wimauma Elementary School