By Tamas Mondovics

Nominate A Young Hillsborough Resident For YEA! Awards

The Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners is now accepting nominations to recognize local student-leaders through the Youth Excellence and Achievement Awards (YEA! Awards). The YEA! Awards were created in 2010 to recognize Hillsborough County students for making a difference in their community.

Students honored show initiative, innovation, and a commitment to themselves and others, while pursuing excellence in a leadership capacity demonstrated in academics, community service, athletics, performing arts, conservation, or other areas.

Nominations can now be submitted through 5 p.m. Monday, April 4, for both middle and high school students in each of the following categories:

• Leadership – Demonstrating a positive impact on others in an ongoing endeavor, such as sports, academics, or the arts. 

• Success Despite Difficult Odds – Overcoming tremendous personal difficulty to attain success and to make a positive impact on others. 

• Volunteer or Community Service – Allocating discretionary time to help others or complete a project that has improved the community.

The YEA! Awards will be presented in May. 

The nomination form can be submitted online at, or printed and mailed. Nominations will be reviewed by the Commission on the Status of Women.

District Announces Excellence In Education Winners

Three outstanding educators and support staff were recently honored as this year’s winners of the Excellence in Education Awards. The winners were chosen out of 699 total nominees, which was funneled down to 14 finalists (four finalists for Ida S. Baker, three finalists for Instructional Support, and seven finalists for Teacher of the Year).

The Hillsborough Education Foundation, along with Hillsborough County Public Schools, presented the awards last month at the David A. Straz Center for the Performing Arts.

The 2016 Ida S. Baker Diversity Educator of the Year award went to Young Middle Magnet School Guidance Counselor, Angela McKinnon. As an English Education major and graduate of the University of South Florida, McKinnon has been with the Hillsborough County School District for 17 years. After 10 years as a high school English teacher, she transitioned into the world of guidance and counseling, impacting the lives of countless students by working with community partners The Girl Scouts of West Central Florida, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and Tampa Alumnae Chapter. McKinnon created various counseling programs: Chit Chat City, Cocoa Book Club and Chit Chat Crochet, all sponsored through Donors Choose grants and community donations.

Also awarded was Just Elementary School Resource Deputy, Wayne Moore, who has earned the 2016 Instructional Support Employee of the Year. Moore is a 17-year U.S. Army veteran and current Navy Reservist and has been in the district since 2001. According to district officials, Moore’s goal is to uplift students to their fullest potential.

“The staff has overwhelmingly voted him Instructional Support Employee of the Year seven times since the school’s opening,” said HCPS Spokesperson Tanya Arja.

The 2016 Teacher of the Year award went to Plant High School Exceptional Student Education (ESE) teacher Mary Beth Radigan. Radigan received her Bachelor’s from Ohio University, majoring in special education and has been teaching for 29 years, nine of which in Hillsborough County. When asked why she has been teaching special education for 29 years, she said, “The population of students I am able to work with accept people unconditionally. This lesson takes most people, and cultures, a lifetime to achieve. I’m grateful for having these students to help me understand this phenomenon.”

Pawbucks Coffee Shop, Paw Prints Cheerleading, Organic and Hydroponic Gardening and Unified Special Olympics are all programs Radigan has helped introduce to Plant High School.

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