Teachers, chamber members pack the Regent

Riverview High School Principal Robert Heilmann was the guest speaker for the event. He shared stories from his decades as an educator and reminded the new teachers of the importance of working to help students feel connected to both teachers and their school. Mitch Traphagen Photo

Riverview High School Principal Robert Heilmann was the guest speaker for the event. He shared stories from his decades as an educator and reminded the new teachers of the importance of working to help students feel connected to both teachers and their school. Mitch Traphagen Photo

By MITCH TRAPHAGEN

The Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce hosted more than 300 teachers, chamber members, dignitaries and administrators on July 15 for the Teaching to Excellence Breakfast.  The event, new this year, was a combination of the traditional new teacher breakfast and recognition of the teachers of the year from the Riverview area. Previously held at Riverview High School, this was the first year the breakfast was held at the Regent.

“The purpose of this event is to warmly welcome new teachers in our community and to honor those who have been recognized as the best of the best as each school’s Teacher of the Year,” said Tanya Doran, executive director of the Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce.

In addition to more than 200 teachers new to the Greater Riverview area, attendees to the event included Dr. Earl Lennard, former Supervisor of Elections and retired Superintendent of Hillsborough County Schools.  Current Superintendent MaryEllen Elia also spoke during the breakfast.

Hillsborough County Teacher of the Year, Cassandra Mattison of Spoto High School also addressed the event.

The featured speaker was Riverview High School principal Robert Heilmann. The event marked a change for the well-known principal — at the Regent, there was no need for his help to get cars parked as in previous years at the high school.  Heilmann also talked to the new teachers about the importance of helping students feel a connection to both their teachers and their school. He is widely regarded as being highly successful at that very objective.

Each teacher at the event received a “goodie bag” containing school supplies and other needed items.  Additionally, dozens of items were raffled off to the schools and teachers.  In all, the event represented 28 Riverview area elementary, middle, high, and charter schools.

According to the results of the June 2013 Horace Mann Educator Advisory Panel Survey, the majority of teachers will spend up to $400 of their own money for needed school supplies in the coming year. Those supplies will range from essential items needed by students who can’t afford them to supplies needed for classroom operation and projects. In the survey, 38 percent of teachers responding stated that more than two classroom projects had to be abandoned due to lack of funds.  The State of Florida does reimburse teachers for a fraction of what the typical teacher will spend on supplies for the coming year.

As a result, the support of the chamber in such events has an immediate and significant impact for both teachers and their students.  In the Horace Mann survey, 90 percent of teachers considered community support and involvement in schools to be either critical or very critical.

The Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce and event co-chairs Jennifer Caskey of CenterState Bank in Riverview and Tim Sanders, Costco Marketing Manager, organized the breakfast.

“Jennifer and Tim, their time and dedication, made this event spectacular,” Doran said. “We had an awesome committee this year.”

In addition to the chamber, Sam’s Club, Mosaic, South Bay Hospital, CenterState Bank of Riverview, Costco and P.F. Auto Glass, Inc. sponsored the event, along with numerous other local business chamber members.

The Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce is located at 10012 Water Works Lane in Riverview and is open to the public Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  For more information, call 813-234-5944 or visit www.riverviewchamber.com.

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