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.


2019 Excellence in Education Awards Winners:


Ida S. Baker Diversity Educator of the Year

Presented by 


Sandra Misciasci, Newsome High
Sandra Misciasci is an innovative teacher who has worked tirelessly for 16 years to evolve as an educator in order to best meet the needs of her students. She earned her B.A. in Psychology from USF and her Master’s from the University of Florida. She strongly believes that the classroom should be a “community” and works hard to create a sense of belonging for all students. Sandra has earned numerous awards during her career such as: 2014 State of Florida Reading Teacher of the Year, 2016 PTSA Teacher of the Year, 2016 Governor’s Shine Award, and 2017 Florida High Impact Teacher Award. She has a deep faith that all her blessings come from the Lord and is most proud of her relationship with God, her amazing husband, her two beautiful children and her family.





Instructional Support Employee of the Year


Barbara Maxwell, Dover Elementary 
Barbara Maxwell graduated from Plant City High in 1977 and has worked at Dover Elementary for 21 years, initially as a Pre-K aide, and then as Secretary I. Her southern charm, determination and enthusiasm are the glue that holds the school together. For instance, when she learned that a fatherless student had no one to take him to the races, she and her husband treated him to a trip there. When another student’s father committed suicide, she reassured her that other people would love and care for her. Barbara is also a vital part of the local church and community, with an active role in meeting the needs of local families. Because of Mrs. Maxwell, students come in as strangers and leave as family.






Teacher of the Year

Founding Award Sponsor 


Dr. Dakeyan Graham, King High
Dr. Dakeyan C. Graham, affectionately known as “Dr. Dré”, serves as the Director of Instrumental Studies at his alma matter, C. Leon King High School. Dr. Graham holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Music Education (University of Florida), a Master’s in Educational Leadership (Concordia University) and a PhD in Music Education (University of South Florida). Throughout his 10 years as an HCPS educator, his students have demonstrated determination and focus, earning a performance position in the prestigious Carnegie Hall. As president of the Hillsborough Secondary Music Council and founder of the Eastern Coalition of Music Directors, his passion is to continue positively impacting the next generation of world changers. He is blessed to share his life with his wife, Casey (also an HCPS educator) and daughter Aaliyah.