Excellence in Education Awards


Every year the Hillsborough Education Foundation, in partnership with Hillsborough County Public Schools, presents the Excellence in Education Awards. This premiere event celebrates educators and school personnel who consistently bring forth their best efforts and utilize their talents to ensure the students they serve receive the best education possible.

This prestigious evening hosts 2,600 attendees representing the 266 schools in the Hillsborough County Public School District. At the ceremony more than 700 nominees, 17 finalists, and ultimately 3 winners are honored in three categories:

  1. Ida S. Baker Diversity Educator of the Year
  2. Instructional Support Employee of the Year, and
  3. Teacher of the Year

Below are the finailsts for the 2015 Excellence in Education Awards. 

Ida S. Baker Diversity Educator of the Year Finalists

Paul Shaffer- Armwood High

Mr. Shaffer has been teaching within Hillsborough County Public Schools for ten years. Paul has taught Special Education, Elementary Education, and Culinary Arts. He is currently a teacher at Armwood High School teaching Culinary Arts to both regular and special education students. Paul also serves as the Department Chair for Career and Technical Education at Armwood. Paul graduated from the University of South Florida with degrees in Special Education, Career and Technical Education, and Adult Career and Technical Education. Mr. Shaffer was selected as the ProStart Teacher of the Year, Family & Consumer Science Supervisor Award for Exemplary Performance, and Board President of HTCAA. The Armwood culinary program has one hundred percent of eligible students National Industry Certified, and ninety-four percent of graduated seniors enrolled in post-secondary education culinary programs of study.





Lance Otto - Davis Elementary 

Lance Otto was raised in Kaiserslautern, Germany. He then attended the University of South Florida and earned his degree in Elementary Education with a Certification in Physical Education.  His career began at Bay Crest
Elementary as a 3rd grade teacher, and he then became a P.E. teacher at Davis Elementary.   Mr. Otto has taught for 17 years in Hillsborough County. He has been fortunate to have been Davis Elementary’s Teacher of the Year, won Wal-Mart’s Teacher of the Year, has been nominated 3 times for P.E. Teacher of the Year and now a finalist for the Ida S. Baker award. Mr. Otto’s goal is to help students achieve excellence in all their endeavors. 



Karen Barmore - Gorrie Elementary 

Karen Barmore is an art educator who has inspired the acquisition of knowledge at all levels, from Kindergarten to University.  She has been teaching at Gorrie Elementary for 20 years. Karen holds a B.S. in Studio Art as well as a B.S. and M.S. in Art Education, all from Florida State University. Karen is an enthusiastic advocate for the arts outside of the classroom as well. As a Nationally Board Certified Teacher she learned the importance of collaborating with and mentoring hundreds of fellow educators by leading multiple workshops at elementary schools, the county, and state conferences. She currently serves on the Hillsborough County Art Curriculum Writing Team, the Art Assessment Writing Team, and The Board of Hillsborough Art Education Association. She was a finalist for Hillsborough County Teacher of the Year and has published several articles in national art education journals.



Stanley Todd Glover - Marshall Middle

Mr. Glover is the son of the late Mr. & Mrs. James Walter Glover.  He is a native of Lakeland, Florida.  In 1982, he graduated from Lake Gibson High School. He received an Associate in Arts degree from Polk State College and graduated from Bethune Cookman University with a Bachelor of Science in Varying Exceptionalities in 1997.  Mr. Glover’s commitment to educational excellence and the development of young minds has allowed him to be awarded Drum Major of Education, Ida S. Baker Diversity in Education, the E.L. Bing Education Award, Black Heritage Community Service Award, Promising Practice Award, and the Mike Storter Award Finalist. Mr. Glover has been employed for 16 year at Marshall Middle School – Plant City where he is a Mathematics Teacher, and an Advisor of Gentlemen’s Quest Club. Mr. Glover resides in Lakeland, Florida with his wife of 17 years, Wendy and son, Jaylon. They attend Free Life Chapel in Lakeland.



Lilana Ramirez - McDonald Elementary

Bio Coming soon



Instructional Support Employee of the Year Finalists

Rhonda Gentle - Benito Middle

Rhonda has been employed with Hillsborough County Public Schools for 17 years. Her job title is ESE Paraprofessional, but the Benito staff considers her to be the “heartbeat” of Benito Middle School. Rhonda’s personal challenge with her daughter, who is in the ESE program, has motivated her to advocate for her students with both their academic and social situations. Rhonda works with small and whole groups providing instructional reading strategies to increase their comprehension skills. Additionally, she teaches life and socials skills in order for her students to be productive citizens in their community. Rhonda has received many accolades including Support Employee of the Year at Young Middle School and Excellence Award for caregivers of students served by Exceptional Student Education.



Madian E. Maquivar - Dover Elementary

Madian E. Maquivar, lovingly known as Maddy, attended college at the University of Puerto Rico and studied Audio Visual Communications and Elementary Education at El Turabo University in Orlando, Florida.  Maddy joined the HCPS system in 2012 as Parent Volunteer when her son started Head Start at Dover Elementary.  Her enjoyment of this work led to her nomination for Head Start Parent of the Year 2012-2013, and propelled her into her current career as a Bilingual Paraprofessional.  Maddy not only performs her daily duties of working with small groups and operating as an extension of the teachers, but goes above and beyond by participating in SAC, coordinating the Fall Festival and being active in many school activities; even leading sing-a-longs at events. She understands the urgency for learning but also makes it fun.  Working with the amazing kids and being recognized and nominated by her peers has been one of the greatest adventures and accomplishments in her life.




Wayne Moore- Just Elementary 

Bio Coming Soon










Brianna Trout - Simmons Career Center

Brianna Trout was born in Terre Haute, Indiana. She moved to the sunshine state in 1989 and has never left. She 'is the daughter to Carol and Robert Trout, has twosisters, four nieces and a nephew, with another on the way. Brianna graduated from Plant City High School in 1999 and earned her Associates in Arts degree from Hillsborough Community College in 2008. In 2003, she started her career with Hillsborough County Public Schools at Simmons Career Center. Brianna's greatest acc,mplishment as an HCPS empioyee has been building communiy partnerships that have resulted in monetary donations and contributions to the school that have been highly beneficial to Simmons Career Center's students' educational achievements.




Raul Andrade - Tomlim Middle

Mr. Andrade was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey where he was the youngest of six children. He received an AA dc~gree in Computer Networking Administration from Gibbs College where he made the Dean's list, all while getting chemotherapy. He has worked in educCJtion for 13 years; 8 in Essex County, New Jersey and 5 in Hillsborough County Schools. In addition to being an Army veteran, he is a member of the Knights of Columbus and a certified foster parent.








Teacher of the Year Finalists

Brittany Udell - Bellamy Elementary 

Brittany was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and moved to the Sunshine State when she was ten years old. Since then, she became a product of Hillsborough County Schools, attending Westchase Elementary, Walker and Davidson Middle, and Alonso High School. Brittany is a proud graduate of the University of South Florida with her bachelors in Elementary Education. She is now in the process of receiving her Master’s Degree. This is her fifth year in Hillsborough County and loves her home at Bellamy Elementary School. While she loves teaching third grade, Brittany also enjoys teaching American Sign Language and Dance at after school clubs. She enjoys working with USF pre-service teachers to create new leaders of tomorrow. In the future, she would like to work in a leadership position as math coach and mentor. 




Circe MacDonald - Bevis Elementary 

A devoted Gator alumnus, Mrs. MacDonald earned her Bachelor of Arts in Education (1993) and her Master of Education degree (1994) from the University of Florida.   Although her teaching career began in southwest Florida, she has also taught in Maine, Kentucky and West Virginia.  The 2014-2015 school year marks Mrs. MacDonald’s 8th year in Hillsborough County, all at Colleen Bevis Elementary where she has taught 3rd grade, 5th grade and gifted students.  In addition to teaching, she currently volunteers as School Advisory Council chair, Chess Club sponsor, ELP teacher, Instructional Leadership Team member and Math Lead co-chair.  An enthusiastic math and science teacher, her most memorable moment in education occurred in 2009 when she received the Honeywell Scholarship to attend Space Camp for Educators at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.  




Cheryl White - Bowers Whitley Career Center

Chef White grew up in a family owned restaurant business.  She earned her BS degree at Texas Christian University.  Her passion for Hospitality then led her to a 22 year career with Hyatt Hotels.  With a desire to give back and share her knowledge and experiences, she became a member of the opening team at Bowers/Whitley Career Center, where she has continually strived for excellence in her classroom for the past 11 years.  She holds her students to high standards as they learn and operate “The Viking Café”, a school based restaurant and catering business out of her Certified ProStart Culinary program.  Students earn industry certifications and have successfully competed at the district, state and national level.  



Darlene Baker - Gorrie Elementary 

Darlene Baker has taught at Gorrie Elementary for 19 years.  She holds a B.S. in Specific Learning Disabilities and a M.A. in Reading Education from the University of South Florida. Darlene is an advocate for reading at all levels. She is a trainer for the district Elementary Reading Department. She is a member of the English Language Arts task force responsible for designing planning support tools to assist teachers as they make the transition to the Florida State Standards.  As president of the Hillsborough County Council International Reading Association, she promotes literacy at the local, state, and international levels. Darlene’s passion for literacy translates to her students and colleagues.  She believes collaboration and professional development is the key to meeting the needs of all students.





Michael Mikulec - Hillsborough High 

 Bio Coming Soon 








Karen Willis Barrett - Stewart Middle

Teaching in Hillsborough County Public Schools, for the last 14 years, University of South Florida graduate and mother of three, Karen Willis-Barrett has been a trailblazer. Her passion for student success has led her to develop numerous partnerships and programs throughout Hillsborough County. She believes that success truly occurs when she leaves a legacy of world changers and life-long learners.  







Diane McKee - Williams Middle 

Diane McKee left the business world to pursue her true passion, education.  While raising two children, she graduated summa cum laude from Kennesaw State University with a B.A. in Education, only possible because of strong support and sacrifice from her husband Dan, and their children, Kristen and Daniel.  After teaching in Atlanta for several years, a transfer landed Diane in Tampa where she has enjoyed teaching with a fabulous staff at Williams Middle Magnet School for twelve wonderful years.  Diane has impacted students by sponsoring NJHS and monitoring student-driven community service projects like planting a garden, filling a truck for Metropolitan Ministries, building first aid kits, and fundraising for The Spring. Committed to academic excellence, Diane’s collaboration with all stakeholders resulted in Williams’ eighth grade students leading the district in FCAT Reading. For FCAT Writes, students not only scored first in the district, but they were also one of the leaders in the state for two consecutive years.      



2014 Winners

Ida S. Baker Diversity Educator of the Year  
2014 Julia Sarmiento – Shields Middle

Ida S. Baker was the first African-American to serve as Deputy Superintendent in the Florida Department of Education. She was known for her efforts to support diverse students and encourage academic success. In her honor, each school site may nominate an individual that embodies the pioneering spirit of Ida S. Baker by going above and beyond to meet the needs of our diverse student population.




Instructional Support Employee of the Year
2014 Amy Peters – Willis Peters ESE Center
Instructional support personnel are recognized for ensuring students and schools have the proper care and services available to promote an enriched and safe environment. Each school may nominate a person who supports the district through administration, transportation, or health services. The winner of the award will go on to compete for the title at the state, and potentially, national level.




Teacher of the Year
2014 Patrick Boyko – Jefferson High 

The Teacher of the Year award recognizes outstanding teacher who have been nominated by their school site for their dedication to the academic achievement of their students. The winner goes on to compete for the Florida State Teacher of the Year honors, and potentially the national Teacher of the Year.