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Agriculture teacher is given diversity award
By LETITIA STEIN, Times Staff Writer
Published November 28, 2007
Juan Guevara, 56, teaches agriculture at the Caminiti Exceptional Center.
TAMPA - Standing at the podium, Juan Guevara's hands shook. The 56-year-old agriculture instructor for students with mental disabilities thanked everyone, speaking softly with an accent that came with him from Venezuela.
At Caminiti Exceptional Center, he teaches middle and high school children. Some are challenged by learning a new word. Others can master every aspect of his lessons on photosynthesis.
He holds every one to high standards, or "stars" to shoot for, as he called it in a prewritten speech, much of which he was too flustered to read after his name was announced for the Ida S. Baker Diversity Educator of the Year Award.
The award recognizes an educator who has gone above and beyond to meet the needs of a diverse student population. This year's finalists were Lecia Monique Fahie, a first-grade teacher at Witter Elementary, and Dorothy Caraway, an educator at Adams Middle.
Guevara has worked for Hillsborough schools since 2003. He also has served as a scoutmaster in the Boy Scouts for 13 years. He is a longtime coach and referee for youth soccer and teaches at Catholic churches.
At Caminiti, teachers enjoy his stories about Venezuela.
Soon they could ask for stories from the trip that he won to the Bahamas, one of the grand prizes for the winner. The awards for the finalists also included scholarships to the College of Education at the University of South Florida and Nova Southeastern University and tickets to area attractions.