Calling All Superheroes! Hillsborough County Honors Outstanding Teachers and Staff at the 2023 Excellence in Education Awards

(January 24, 2023) TAMPA – Every day, nearly 24,000 teachers and staff in Hillsborough County Public Schools (HCPS) truly are superheroes for the difference they are making in students’ lives and for their dedication to public education. On Thursday, Hillsborough Education Foundation, in partnership with the district will celebrate 667 outstanding nominees and 12 finalists from schools across the county at our 2023 Excellence in Education Awards. A winner will be named in each category as 2023 Teacher of the Year, Ida S. Baker Diversity Educator of the Year and Instructional Support Employee of the Year.

What: 2023 Excellence in Education Awards honoring Hillsborough’s top teachers and support personnel

When: Thursday, January 26, 2023

    • Reception begins at 4:30 p.m. with food prepared by HCPS Culinary students
    • Awards ceremony, 6-7:15 p.m.

Where: Straz Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N. MacInnes Place, Tampa, 33602—Morsani Hall

Nominees embody this year’s theme, “Calling All Superheroes” and were selected by their schools for their commitment to supporting students’ success, both academically and personally, and demonstrating Excellence in Education. It is an honor to receive this special distinction out of so many phenomenal educators and personnel in the seventh largest school district in the nation.

Members of the media interested in covering the event should contact Kendra Oestreich in advance for entry to the Straz Center. Media check-in is at the HEF/HCPS Invited Guests table.

2023 Excellence in Education Awards Facts

Total Nominees – 667

  • Teacher of the Year Nominees: 232
  • Ida S. Baker Diversity Educator of the Year Nominees: 227
  • Instructional Support Employee of the Year Nominees: 208 

Teacher of the Year Finalists

  • Nicolette Barone, Fifth Grade Teacher Oak Park Elementary
  • Josette Daley, Third Grade Teacher Forest Hills Elementary
  • Elizabeth Hawley, Media Specialist Dowdell Middle
  • Rebecca Oakeson, Pre-K Exceptional Student Education Teacher Kingswood Elementary
  • Elizabeth Osborn, Advanced Placement Psychology TeacherAlonso High

Ida S. Baker Diversity Educator of the Year Finalists

  • Muhammed Conteh, JROTC InstructorPlant High
  • Sherly Gervais, Climate & Culture Resource Teacher Sumner High
  • Lynda Taylor, Exceptional Student Education Teacher Gaither High
  • Mary Valesano, Third Grade Teacher Burney Elementary

Instructional Support Employee of the Year Finalists

  • Donreece Brown, Exceptional Student Education ParaprofessionalLopez ESE Center
  • Pamela May, SecretaryKing High
  • Chinovia Shedrick, Exceptional Student Education ParaprofessionalMemorial Middle

About Hillsborough Education Foundation

Established in 1987, Hillsborough Education Foundation (HEF) is a nonprofit focused on strengthening public education by supporting teachers and empowering students to achieve academic and personal success. Together with our community partners, HEF strategically invests in initiatives that impact teaching quality, increase graduation rates and build equity in education—bolstering a thriving workforce of tomorrow and the sustainable prosperity of Tampa Bay. Learn more at

About Hillsborough County Public Schools

Hillsborough County Public Schools is the seventh largest school district in the country and the largest in central Florida. There are more than 250 public schools and programs, 24,000 employees and 220,000 students. HCPS is proudly celebrating the highest graduation rate in district history and all twenty-seven high schools were recently listed in the US News and World Report Best High Schools ranking report. Hillsborough Schools boasts the 2020 #1 Elementary Magnet School of the Year — MacFarlane Park Elementary, a Florida Teacher of the Year recipient, and a Presidential Award of Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching Winner. HCPS is currently ranked #19 in the state academically, the highest ranking in its history. Learn more at


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