Florida TaxWatch Announces 2018-19 Award Winners
Florida TaxWatch Announces 2018-19 Principal Leadership Award Winners
Posted on 10/29/2018
Photo of Dr. Pace and Paula EvansFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 10/25/18

Leah Courtney, Communications Coordinator

Between managing teachers and administrative staff, being a role model to students, and serving as a representative in the community, principals have their work cut out for them. Those that go above and beyond to assure their students have successful futures deserve to be recognized and rewarded. This is why Florida TaxWatch, the independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit public policy research institute, established the Principal Leadership Awards (PLA) in 2013 to identify the state's most effective principals in at-risk K-12 public schools, where success can truly be transformative.

Today, Florida TaxWatch announced this year's nine PLA winners, who have been instrumental in helping their students achieve success in Florida's high-risk schools. The winners will be recognized on May 23rd, 2019 at the Annual Florida TaxWatch Principal Leadership Awards in Orlando. Three principals will take home top honors and an additional cash prize for their work with Florida students.

In addition to being rewarded for their work, each winning principal will have an opportunity to select a deserving student in their school to receive a 2-Year Florida College Plan Scholarship as part of the Academic A+ Student Scholarship Program, sponsored by the Florida Prepaid College Foundation & Florida TaxWatch.

Each year, PLA winners are determined based on an analysis of student achievement gains in reading and mathematics in schools that have high percentages of students with disabilities, students eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch, and students designated as English as a Second Language learners. The Principal Leadership Awards are data-driven, based on performance and results; no nominations are accepted for the awards.

"This year's nine outstanding principals have dedicated their lives to assure that their students are successful, both in and out of the classroom," said Dominic M. Calabro, President and CEO of Florida TaxWatch. "Florida TaxWatch is honored to partner with great public and private groups to promote solid learning environments that will guarantee a bright future for the state of Florida and its next generation of leaders.”
The 2018-19 honorees are:

Tracy Bowers, Wewahitchka Elementary School, Gulf County
Kristina Alvarez, Alexander Elementary School, Hillsborough County
Rhonda Williams, Barbara Hawkins Elementary School, Miami-Dade County
Mike Fantaski, Addie R. Lewis Middle School, Okaloosa County
Karen French, Ferrell Middle Magnet School, Hillsborough County
Mason Clark, Golden Gate Middle School, Collier County
Bill McElroy, Professional Academies Magnet at Loften High School, Alachua County
Paula Evans, Professional and Technical High School, Osceola County
Victoriano Rodriguez, International Studies Charter School, Miami-Dade County

"I would like to thank each of these award-winning principals for their innovative leadership and commitment to grooming tomorrow's business leaders," said David Mann, Chairman of Florida TaxWatch and SunTrust Regional CRE Banking Executive. “It is imperative for Florida’s economy that students be prepared to excel in and beyond the classroom.”

"As the Chair of the State Board of Education, it gives me great pleasure to see that these excellent principals are being recognized on the basis of real, tangible results for our students," said Chair of the Florida State Board of Education Marva Johnson. "Their transformational work can help ensure a commitment to life-long learning from their students, and open doors to opportunities once out of reach for communities across our great state."

“The Florida Prepaid College Foundation is honored to be able to partner with Florida TaxWatch and the generous corporate sponsors of the Principal Leadership Awards to provide 2-Year Florida College Plan Scholarships to nine deserving Florida students this year,” said Cynthia O’Connell, Director of the Florida Prepaid College Foundation. “These scholarships will help to transform the lives of these students and their families."

The principals will be recognized at a ceremony in Orlando next spring where they will be honored by their friends and family, colleagues, and representatives from the program sponsors. Without the support of our generous sponsors – The Florida Lottery, Florida Prepaid College Foundation, Bright Star Credit Union, J.M. Rubin Foundation, Verizon, Wells Fargo, Maximus, Charter Communications, Gulf Power, Universal Orlando, AAA, Kyra Solutions, Ajax Building Corporation, Tampa Bay Times, SunTrust Bank, Helios Education Foundation – this program would not be possible.

About Florida TaxWatch
As an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit government watchdog & taxpayer research institute for nearly forty years, the trusted eyes and ears of Florida taxpayers, Florida TaxWatch, works to improve the productivity and accountability of Florida government. Its research recommends productivity enhancements and explains the statewide impact of fiscal and economic policies and practices on citizens and businesses.

Florida TaxWatch is supported by voluntary, tax-deductible donations and private grants, and does not accept government funding. Donations provide a solid, lasting foundation that has enabled Florida TaxWatch to bring about a more effective, responsive government that is more accountable to, and productive for, the citizens it serves since 1979. For more information, please visit http://www.floridataxwatch.org.
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