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Community honors outstanding educator and student in the Tampa Bay area

May 01, 2017

The inspiring stories of a Sergeant Smith Middle School student and a teacher at Burney Elementary School, moved the audience to tears recently at the Glazer Children's Museum annual Education is Key Breakfast. 

Eighth-grader Ada Vasquez and elementary teacher Tina Cook were honored at the breakfast for their perseverance, drive and determination. Attendees had the opportunity to view a short video about each to learn more about them and why they were chosen. 

Organizers said Ada’s story was phenomenal and judges were impressed with her will to succeed even after a heart-breaking set back. Ada was always a good student and worked hard to get good grades - but she failed the seventh grade. And although knowing she might not be able to graduate with her class devastated her, she was determined to try and find a way. With the help of her guidance counselor, Ada took classes online to gain high school credit. She became a mentor at her school and began helping other students succeed. Her efforts paid off and she will enter high school with enough credits to graduate on time, with her class in 2020.

When Tina Cook was nominated, she was described as “an outstanding educator that goes above and beyond the job description.” Cook is a teacher at Burney Elementary with a love for science that she is committed to passing on to her students. She has written grants for her school to receive the supplies necessary for various science projects including incubators for hatching eggs. She has also purchased the materials several students needed to participate in the STEM Fair. Cook sponsors the science club G.E.M.S (Girls Engaged in Math and Science) and brings women in from the community working in the math and science fields to show students how much fun it can be.

“I am so excited to go back to my students and tell them I won this award because of them,” Cook said. “It is truly an honor.”

Education is Key is an annual event to honor an outstanding educator and student in the Tampa Bay area.  

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