Sandra Misciasci

Three local teachers received well-deserved recognition recently through the Excellence in Education Awards from the Hillsborough Education Foundation and Hillsborough County Public Schools.

Scott Hottenstein

Sandra Misciasci, a reading teacher at Newsome High School, received the group’s 2019 Ida S. Baker Diversity Educator of the Year; Scott Hottenstein, social studies teacher at Barrington Middle School, was a finalist in the Teacher of the Year category; and Jordan Luke Harris, custodian at Stowers Elementary School, was a finalist for the Instructional Support Employee of the Year category.

Jordan Luke Harris

According to Hannah Resendiz, Communications and Public Relations Coordinator with the Hillsborough Education Foundation, 686 teachers and staff were nominated in the three categories and 13 nominees were chosen as finalists.

“The 13 finalists represent the best of the best in Hillsborough County Public Schools,” said Resendiz. “The Foundation is proud to support the district in the promotion and fundraising of this event. We cannot emphasize enough how important our teachers are and the tremendous impact they have on our students, so this is a night when we honor them.”

Nominees for the awards are chosen at their schools and applications for each nominee are then passed on to the district. The district staff then reviews all applications and identifies those requesting to participate in the district-level competition. Those applicants are reviewed by individual Award Selection Committees and the 13 finalists are chosen. The finalists are interviewed by the superintendent and the finalists selection committee and the winners are announced at the annual Excellence in Education Awards event.

“The awards selection committee is made up of members of the Principal Councils, Supervisory Council and district staff subject matter experts,” said Resendiz. “The finalist selection committee, consisting of district staff and representatives from the Hillsborough Education Foundation and award sponsoring companies, interviews each finalist and selects the awards winner in each category.”

“The awards event recognizes all Hillsborough County Public School employees who demonstrate a passion for excellence in education,” said Resendiz.

For more about the Hillsborough Education Foundation, visit

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Assignment Editor Kate Quesada started working at the Osprey Observer in 2004 after graduating from the University of South Florida with a masters degree in Mass Communications. Since then, she has held various positions at the paper and has been working as the assignment editor since January 2020. She lives in Lithia with her husband Mike and sons Dylan and Max and stays active in the community on school PTA boards and volunteering with local organizations.