PUBLISHED AUG. 11, 2016
By LOIS KINDLE
Almost 300 teachers and administrators from 29 Riverview area schools gathered at The Regent Aug. 5 for free breakfast, loads of gifts and a special program hosted by the Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce. The chamber’s annual Teaching to Excellence Breakfast included 19 schools from Riverview, four from Gibsonton and four from Lithia.
In addition to welcoming brand new teachers and those new to Riverview area schools, the event recognized 26 teachers of the year from the 2015-2016 school year. It was sponsored by scores of member businesses, including major contributors like Sam’s Club, #Asphaltbabe, Mosaic, Rainbow Engraving, South Bay Hospital, Riverview Mortgage, The Regent, Technology Win! and Thatcher Properties. Additional cash sponsors included Canine Cabana, Coastal Catering, PDQ, HCC at the Regent, Suncoast Community Health Centers, Suncoast Credit Union, Jake Raburn, of the Florida House of Representatives and more than 30 others.
“We were very blessed also to have many in-kind donors who gave us everything from pencils, highlighters and dry erase markers to gift cards, notebooks and reams of paper,” said Tanya Doran, the chamber’s executive director. “And then we had about 50 volunteers who helped us organize, set up and tear down the event. We couldn’t have done it without them.”
Guest speakers included Hillsborough County Schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins, Ellen Kleinschmidt, the county’s 2005 Teacher of the Year, and Tanya O’Connor, of Brandon Law.
“I told them as new teachers, they are bound to make mistakes, but that’s how they will learn,” Kleinschmidt said. “I made so many along the way, and I shared how I was able to turn them into masterpieces.
“I encouraged them to think big, look for teachable moments, have fun and wear comfortable shoes.”
Every teacher received an oversized shopping bag filled with new school supplies and other items, and more than 50 won a raffle prize valued at least $50. These included items like a weekend stay at Little Harbor, spa package and gift baskets from Costco, Sam’s Club, Walmart and MOSI. More than 80 cases of copy paper were given to area schools.
“We do this on behalf of the community to warmly welcome new teachers and honor our local teachers of the year,” Doran said. “Our business community strongly supports our area schools and this event shows appreciation for what they do for our children.”
Ernest Hooper, of the Tampa Bay Times, emceed the program, and Jennifer McCaskey of CenterState Bank formally welcomed the crowd.
Students from nearby schools participated. To start things off, the Riverview High School cheerleading squad gave a rousing welcome to everyone who entered The Regent, and the East Bay High School JROTC Color Guard presented the colors. Cadet volunteers from the Riverview High School JROTC provided physical labor to help chamber officials set up and tear down the room.
“(Teaching too Excellence) was wonderful,” said Caskey, the chamber’s 2015 president and event chairwoman. “We started planning it the first week in April and met every other week since.
“There was so much energy in the room,” she continued. “All of the teachers were excited and happy. We look forward to doing it again next year.”