SARASOTA, May 11, 2016 — Betsy Hooper, an
administrative assistant and bookkeeper in the Pupil Support Services
Department, was named the Sarasota County School District’s 2016 School-Related
Employee of the Year at a luncheon May 11 at Michael’s on East in Sarasota.
Hooper was selected from among 49 nominees selected
from the approximately 2,100 support staff members who work throughout the
district’s schools and departments, and who are not teachers or administrators.
All nominees were honored at the luncheon. (Click here for a list of all 49 honorees.)
Superintendent Lori White, Deputy
Superintendent Scott Lempe and School Board Chairwoman Shirley Brown were among
the speakers and award presenters.
Brown, a school bus driver who was the district’s 2015 School-Related Employee
of the Year, was on hand to pass the torch to this year’s winner.
the award, Hooper addressed all the nominees in her emotional remarks: “With
heartfelt thanks and wobbly knees, let me say how honored I am to represent all
of you. I know how hard you work; you give your time, talent and treasure to
the district and students every day. I’m so touched by this. Thank you from the
bottom of my racing heart!”
has been with the school district since 1998. She has served as an
administrative assistant to various departments, currently as the administrative
assistant and bookkeeper for the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)
and Migrant Education programs, and simultaneously for the district’s State and
Federal Projects Office.
said Hooper has excelled in multiple roles and that many of her activities
outside the school district also provide support for students and families.
has a 20-year history of volunteering with the Florida Gulf Coast Chapter of
the Alzheimer’s Association and is active at her church, St. Boniface
Episcopal. She coordinates donations of shoes and socks for students from local
businesses, including Regions Bank, so economically disadvantaged children will
have new footwear to start the new school year.
also is passionate about volunteering to support the efforts of local schools
with Odyssey of the Mind, a creative, competitive problem-solving
program for students in grades K-12 and college. The goal is to learn teamwork,
brainstorming, self-reliance and respect for the individual strengths of team
members. Hooper has been active in the judging of the contests at the regional
and state level for 14 consecutive years. Teams from district schools often compete
in the Odyssey World Finals, held each year at Michigan State University in
East Lansing, where Hooper received her master’s degree in public
administration. (She also has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the
University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.) In 2002 Hooper was a coach at the Odyssey World Finals; her team of coaches
took second place in a special competition.
serves on the committee that organizes the School-Related Employee of the Year
program each year. Al Harayda, the district’s employee relations administrator,
said at the awards luncheon that it was hard to keep the secret from Hooper
that she would be this year’s district honoree. Before making the surprise
announcement of the winner, Harayda said, “Those of you who know this person
will agree that the judges made the perfect choice.”
the 10th consecutive year, the Lead Sponsor of the School-Related Employee of
the Year program is Germain Toyota of Sarasota. As the company has done for the
past nine years, Germain Toyota is honoring all district employees through its
sponsorship of the program. As they have done all 10 years of their sponsorship;
Germain also is providing the overall district winner with the use of a new
vehicle for 12 months. This year the car is a 2016 Scion iA.
The event’s Platinum Sponsors are the
School Based Administrators organization, the School District Administrators
organization, Harvard Jolly
Architects, ProFloors, Tampa
Bay Trane and Tandem Construction.
Gold Sponsors are the Education Foundation of Sarasota County,
McIntyre Elwell & Strammer Contractors, Jon F. Swift Construction, Florida
Blue, Neal Communities, PDQ Sarasota, Tandus Centiva and Willis Smith
Sponsors are Bencor, Cristal/Haneian Attorneys at Law, Landscape941, Magnum
Builders, Publix Super Markets Charities, Re-Ex Insurance Brokers, Springer-Peterson Roofing and Sweet-Sparkman
Friends of the event are
Sights and Sounds A.V., the Sarasota Classified/Teachers Association
and the Sarasota County Association of
Educational Office Professionals.
Suncoast Technical College Digital Video Production Program
students recorded the event with photos and video. Booker High School music
students provided entertainment. Venice Middle School Young Marines presented