ConnectED Header
January 2018  
Visit us online Donate
In this edition of ConnectED:
  • Save the Date: Play Fore Education Golf Tournament

  • Halfway Through the Year, HEF Has Given $1.5M in School Supplies

  • Excellence in Education Winners Announced

  • Kids in Need Foundation Visit

  • $110,000 in Innovative Project Funds Awarded

  • Change a Student's Life, Become a Mentor

  • HEF Spotlight: Brandi Melton, Program Support Manager

  • Don't Miss the Deadline to Apply for a Florida Prepaid Savings Plan

Golfers: Play Fore Education tourney is coming up
Join us for a fun day of golf and help kids in our community at the same time! The Play Fore Education Golf Tournament presented by Batson-Cook is coming up on March 19 at the Avila Golf & Country Club . The format is a team scramble featuring on-course contests and prizes. 

Since 2004, proceeds from the annual tournament have gone to the Hillsborough Education Foundation to support scholarships, mentoring, free school supplies, classroom projects, recognition for educators and more.  

For information on participating or sponsorship opportunities, contact Sharon O'Connor  at   or  (813)574-0267.

Halfway through the year, HEF has given 
$1.5M in school supplies to kids in need
It's been a busy year for Teaching Tools - in the first half of 2017-18, HEF provided nearly $1.5 million in free school supplies to Hillsborough County students in need. That's a 13 percent increase over the $1.3 million worth of supplies that had been given by this time last year. We are so thankful to all of the organizations and individuals who support Teaching Tools through donations or volunteering!   

Teaching Tools volunteer opportunity:
We are in need of individuals and groups to volunteer on weekday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon, as well as during shopping hours:
  • Mondays: 2:30-5 p.m.
  • Wednesdays/Thursdays: 3-6 p.m.
For more information, contact Brandi Melton at    or  (813)574-0275.

2018 Excellence in Education Awards:
A Winter Wonderland Celebration

On Jan. 16, the Hillsborough Education Foundation and Hillsborough County Public Schools hosted the 2018 Excellence in Education Awards at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts. Nearly 700 nominees and 13 finalists for three prestigious awards were honored at the red-carpet affair. The winners for Teacher of the Year, Ida S. Baker Diversity Educator of the Year and Instructional Support Emp loyee of the Year were announced during an awards ceremony in Morsani Hall Auditorium:

2018 Ida S. Baker Diversity Educator of the Year Christine Campbell, of Van Buren Middle, with student escort Ja'Ri Gray and HCPS Superintendent Jeff Eakins.

2018 Instructional Support Employee of the Year Miriam Velez-Hernandez, of Dover Elementary, with student escort Carlos Penilla and HCPS Superintendent Jeff Eakins.

2018 Teacher of the Year Bonnie Bresnyan, of Lewis Elementary, with student escort David Soto and HCPS Superintendent Jeff Eakins.

HEF hosts Kids in Need Foundation staff, board

Last week, we had the privilege of hosting staff and board members from the Kids in Need Foundation at a welcome dinner in TECO Hall. Our visitors traveled to sunny Tampa for a board retreat and to tour the Teaching Tools Store. We are lucky to have a wonderful partnership with Kids in Need, which in the last 23 years has donated nearly $1 billion in school supplies to kids across the country - including many right here in Hillsborough County. Teaching Tools is part of the KINF's national network of resource centers. 

Thank you, Kids in Need, for the visit and for helping us help kids in our community!

HEF awards $110,000 in Innovative Project funds
One local school will be able to establish a school garden this year, and another will be able to buy new tubano drums for its music classroom, thanks to Innovative Project funding from HEF. This school year, we will award Innovative Project funding to 79 classrooms/schools across the county, ranging from $250 to $2,500 each and totaling almost $110,000Fifty-five of the projects are classroom-based and 24 are school-wide. 

This year's projects span a variety of subject areas, including the arts, agriculture, career and tech, literacy, music, social studies and STEM.  The recipients were given the good news in December and began receiving their funding this month. 

We can't wait to see these fantastic projects in action! 

Change a student's life, become a mentor
If you are looking for a meaningful way to give back, consider becoming a mentor to an
Mentor/mentee pair Sarah and Sukari snap a selfie to wrap up National Mentoring Month.
HCPS middle- or high-school student. As a mentor, you will meet with your mentee at his or her school weekly throughout the academic year.  Click here  to learn more or to fill out an application.

Schools with the most need: 
Durant High  | Strawberry Crest High  | 
Tampa Bay Tech High  |  Turkey Creek Middle  |  
Sickles High | Armwood High

To get matched with a student, contact Brandi Melton at  
or  (813)574-0275.

Brandi Melton | Program Support Manager

Responsibilities include:  Grant writing/management and volunteer recruitment/engagement.

Years at HEF: 2

Who was your favorite teacher and why?
Ms. Wood was my favorite teacher in High School. She was my AP English teacher and her room had no desks, just carpets and big cushy chairs and sofas so we could read or discuss books together. Her walls were covered in interesting art from both famous artists as well as students. Her class was hard work but she made us feel like we were just a book club, having a good time together. She was the one that got me to break my rule about writing and highlighting personal books and to this day when I underline a passage, I think of her.

What was your first job?
My first job was hostess at a local restaurant in Little Rock. For my 14th birthday, I was given the gift of "no more allowance" and was allowed to work at the restaurant my uncle managed. I loved that job. The restaurant was on the second floor of a building overlooking the river and amphitheater so I got to meet a lot of bands and saw more shows than I can remember. 
If you could have a super power, what would it be?
The ability to turn regular paper into cash money! But I would also take knowing every language that ever was or is. I love books and history and feel like there is much in the world I don't have access to because I don't know the language. To pick up any book no matter where from or how old and be able to read and understand it in its original language would be amazing! 

What was your most memorable vacation?
I traveled to Ireland a few years ago and got to tour the library at Trinity College in Dublin. It was on my bucket list of places to see and it was absolutely breathtaking. Smithwick's (my favorite beer) on tap at every bar and restaurant while I was there didn't hurt either.

Families: It's never too early to save for college
We want to share an amazing opportunity for  Hillsborough County families: Help your grade-schoolers be tomorrow's college-finishers by starting a Florida Prepaid College Plan. Open Enrollment is underway, and families can use the promo code HILLS1718 for half off the application fee.