At a luncheon, the business group recognizes teachers chosen by principals in the Largo area.
LARGO - While the Pinellas County School District honors outstanding educators countywide, the Largo/Mid-Pinellas Chamber of Commerce makes a special effort to recognize excellent educators a bit closer to home.
"A lot of times people take for granted the heroes they have in their own back yard," chamber president Tom Morrissette said.
At a recognition ceremony on Tuesday afternoon, the chamber treated 10 Largo-area teachers to a feast of boneless chicken, roast pork, assorted salads and vanilla-frosted cake at the East Bay Country Club.
"We wanted to make it a special day for them because they make every day a special day for our kids," Morrissette said.
The awards are one of several ways the chamber supports area schools and students, said Jeannine Mallory, chamber events coordinator.
"We know that from these students are going to come our future workers," Mallory said. "It's just something we do as chamber to say thank you and let the teachers know how much we appreciate them."
The chamber also offers scholarships to local students and partners with Largo Middle, Largo High and Pinellas County Technical Education Center.
It also began a new Adopt-a-Class program for the middle school recently. Funds donated to the school by local businesses will pay for field trips and school supplies such as pencils, books, dictionaries, maps, calculators and digital cameras.
With about 80 guests, including most of the Pinellas County School Board, this year's luncheon had one of its largest turnouts ever, chamber chairwoman Arlene Walker said.
Outstanding educators were selected by principals at each school.
"They tell us that's the hardest thing they have to do is pick just one," Walker said.
Largo/Mid-Pinellas Chamber of Commerce outstanding educator honors went to:
Karen Bosso, a fifth-grade teacher at Ponce de Leon Elementary; Annie Gardner, a kindergarten teacher at Ridgecrest Elementary School; Lorietta Howard, a special education instructor at Largo High School; Cathy Hart, a music teacher at Frontier Elementary School; Kay Pravda, head of instructional technology at Mildred Helms Elementary School; and Judy Roe, a seventh-grade social studies teacher at Largo Middle School.
Also winning the distinction: Millie Sokell, head of the physical education program at Walsingham Elementary School; Vicki Stum, a first-grade teacher at Bardmoor Elementary School; Sarah Isel Webb, a fourth-grade teacher at Fuguitt Elementary School; and Richard Baker, an electrical wiring program instructor at Pinellas Technical Education Centers.
- Lorri Helfand can be reached at 445-4155 or at email@example.com