Excellence in Education

We believe effective teachers are foundational to student success. Empowering teachers and school personnel with the support they need to be effective is crucial.

 Our annual Excellence in Education (EIE) Awards is a premier event that celebrates around 700 outstanding educators and school personnel who consistently bring forth their best efforts and utilize their talents to ensure all students benefit from a high-quality education.

Every day, more than 24,000 teachers and staff in our district make a difference in students’ lives. They play a critical role in providing a welcoming academic environment where every student can thrive and reach their fullest potential in school and in life—and deserve this recognition.

Nominees from each school are selected across three categories:

Ida S. Baker Diversity Educator of the Year
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 underserved students and encourage academic success. In her honor, each school site may nominate an individual who 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
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 levels.

Teacher of the Year
The Teacher of the Year award recognizes outstanding teachers 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 Florida State Teacher of the Year honors, and potentially the national Teacher of the Year.

2022 Excellence in Education Award Winners 

Laura Widerberg
2022 Teacher of the Year

Benigno Lopez
2022 Ida S. Baker Diversity Educator of the Year

Faith Smith
2022 Instructional Support Employee of the Year

2022 Teacher of the Year Finalists 


Melissa Bondoc
Summerfield Elementary
Second Grade Teacher


Sonya Kelly
Tampa Palms Elementary
Third Grade Teacher


Jennifer Price
Lanier Elementary
Fifth Grade ELA Teacher


Laura Widerberg
Armwood High
Biology Teacher


Trista Willard
Mendenhall Elementary
Third Grade Teacher

2022 Ida S. Baker Diversity Educator of the Year Finalists 


Liisa DiTarando
McKitrick Elementary
Second Grade Teacher


Kristine Kelly
Potter Elementary
Resource Teacher


Bernadette London
Lomax Elementary
Fifth Grade Teacher


Benigno Lopez
Shields Middle
Success Coach


Karian Rivera
Reddick Elementary
First Grade Teacher

2022 Instructional Support Employee of the Year Finalists 


Anita Garcia
Mitchell Elementary
Data Processor


Steve Lunin
Sickles High
Student Nutrition Services Manager


Faith Smith
Temple Terrace Elementary
Parent Liaison Aide