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Superintendent surprises Plant High senior with PRISM Award

May 16, 2018

Plant High School senior Robert Schofner thought his mom made him dress up for his final day of high school.  It turns out, he donned that polo shirt and khakis for a surprise visit from Superintendent Jeff Eakins and to receive a very special award from the district.

“I’m pretty sure everyone, all of the staff at my school, knew a week before I did,” said Schofner.

Superintendent Eakins, along with School Board Chair Sally Harris, Board Member Lynn Gray, Principal Johnny Bush and parents Ted and Michelle Schofner surprised the senior in his AP Government class with the PRISM Award.

“This is only the second student in Hillsborough County that’s ever won the PRISM Award,” said Superintendent Eakins.  “And the PRISM Award winner this year for Hillsborough County Public Schools is Robert Schofner, also known as Bob to all of you.” 

PRISM stands for Proactive, Relational, Integrity, Safety and Motivation, five core values of the district established by the School Board to guide students and staff.  Superintendent Eakins created the PRISM Award to highlight members in the district and community partners who demonstrate those values in their daily lives and interactions with others.

Schofner is Plant High School’s valedictorian and a volunteer with more than 570 community service hours. He is heading to Princeton University this fall to study molecular biology. 

“You don’t really give back to the community or work for any sort of award or anything like that, so when people sort of recognize it, it’s unexpected and very appreciated,” Schofner said.

The senior raised money to create a sensory room at the United Cerebral Palsy of Tampa Bay Pre-School.  He’s organized tutoring and career fairs to support the district’s strategic priority to increase the graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020.  Schofner has a 4.0 state GPA and more than doubled that with his district GPA.

“He’s an incredible student - 8.84 GPA.  That’s not too bad, Bob,” said Superintendent Eakins.  “This award is well beyond just academics.  This is about the person and the heart that someone has as well,” Superintendent Eakins said.

Schofner has spent time as a volunteer at Tampa Bay Judeo Christian Health Clinic, which provides no-cost emergency dental care to people in need.  It’s where he reconnected with his elementary school janitor, Mr. Martinez, who helped him locate his missing retainer in third grade.  Schofner saw Mr. Martinez at the back of the line at the end of the day and knew he likely wouldn’t be able to be seen that day.  Schofner arranged for the dentist and staff to stay late so that Mr. Martinez could be seen.

“I’ve had plastic surgeries on my face.  I was born with a cleft lip and palate, so it’s been a long road.  Lots of orthodontia, dental procedures.  There’s always places and jobs you can give your time to and see a tangible benefit in the people you impact,” Schofner said.

“Bob has displayed excellence not only here at the clinic, but in all aspects of his high school educational career.  I just know he’s going to go places and change the world when he gets out there,” said Kelly Bell, Executive Director of the Judeo Christian Health Clinic. 

Schofner has hopes to one day become a surgeon or specialist at a Level 1 trauma center and insists that Hillsborough County Public Schools has helped to prepare him for life: “There’s always an opportunity in our district for you to rise to your full potential."

Superintendent Eakins officially presented Schofner with the PRISM Award at the May 15 School Board meeting.  The superintendent also revealed Schofner’s picture that will hang in the boardroom to serve as a reminder of Schofner’s outstanding leadership and serve as a reminder of the district’s mission to support students.

“You’re going to continue to impact humanity in an incredible way in your future, so we’re proud of you, sir,” said Superintendent Eakins.

To nominate a student, staff member or community partner for the Superintendent’s PRISM Award: http://www.sdhc.k12.fl.us/doc/2160/prismaward.

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