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 nearly 3,000 attendees representing the 266 schools in the Hillsborough County Public School District. At the ceremony nearly 700 nominees, 12 finalists, and ultimately 3 winners are honored in three categories.
2017 Excellence in Education Awards winners:
Ida S. Baker Diversity Educator of the Year
Pedro Castrejon, Jefferson High School
Teaching in Hillsborough County for five years, Pedro Castrejon is a product of the very same welding program at Jefferson High in which he now teaches. Graduating from Erwin Technical College in applied welding technology in December 2005, he truly has a passion for welding. Both of his parents came to the land of opportunities as immigrants, not knowing any English, to try and make a better future for their family. His biggest accomplishment is being able to vote for the first time on Nov. 8, 2016 after becoming a United States citizen. He is lucky to have Susan and Miguel Gallardo as his biggest mentors throughout his life. He's been married to his best friend, Laneesha, since June 2013. Knowing that he is taking full advantage of the opportunities in front of him and that he gets to make a difference in his students' lives is his daily motivation.
Instructional Support Employee of the Year
Terranique Ragins, Franklin Boys Middle Magnet
Ms. Terranique (Terri) Ragins was born and raised in Plant City. She graduated from Plant City High School and continued her education at Hillsborough Community College, earning an associate's degree in elementary education. She pursued a career with HCPS as a school bus driver in 2000 and has been a Secretary 1, Secretary 3 and Principal's Secretary. She is currently the Principal's Secretary at Franklin BPA. She is the mother of four wonderful children. Her greatest accomplishment is raising her children as a single mother, while continuing to advance in her career. She is involved in the after-school enrichment program, ELP and assisting HOST. She is also a member of the SAC Committee and the Sunshine Committee, and is a proud bus mentor. Her motivation on a daily basis is making sure that her faculty, staff, students and BPA parents are well taken care of before and during each day.
Teacher of the Year
Maria Torres-Crosby, Memorial Middle School
Maria Torres-Crosby lives for the relationships she builds with her students at
Memorial Middle School, where she has taught for 20 years. She holds a master's degree from Long Island University. Her professional accomplishments include National Board Certification, Inclusionary Individual of the Year, and College Board Teacher of Distinction. As the National Junior Honor Society sponsor, she leads students in the Breast Cancer Walk-A-Thon, canned food drives, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Pasta for Pennies, and other community services. In her personal life, Maria volunteers as a church educator, and she cherishes quiet time with her husband, her cat and books.