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Raul Bonano Alvira of McLane Middle School and Rita Michelle Barnett of Forest Hills Elementary School are among the most recent cadre of Governor's Shine Award winners.

Governor's Shine Award honors veterans-turned-teachers

November 17, 2017

With distinguished careers in both the military and the classroom, a pair of Hillsborough County Public Schools teachers recently received the appropriately named Shine Award from Gov. Rick Scott.

Scott awards the Shine periodically to teachers and administrators who make significant contributions to the field of education. Each set of winners usually has a common thread, and the November slate of 18 winners was comprised largely of veterans, including two from Hillsborough County Public Schools.

They were recognized Nov. 7 at the Florida Cabinet meeting in Tallahassee.

One recipient was Raul Bonano Alvira from McLane Middle School. The fifth-year teacher said he enjoys the everyday challenge of helping students who really need the most support. He finds it extremely satisfying to know that one can make a contribution to the lives of these students.

He said it was “really nice” to be recognized for his service.

“It was an honor and humbling experience to represent HCPS at the Shine Awards,” he said. “You know, prior service members seldom think about our time in uniform, we just served.”

Bonano Alvira previously served 11 years with the U.S. Army, earning the rank of Specialist E4 and earning the Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon and the Armed Forces Reserve Medal “M” Device.

Our district’s other recipient also served in the U.S. Army.

Rita Michelle Barnett teaches kindergarten at Forest Hills Elementary School. She is most moved about how she is able to watch students make so much progress in their year together. For many students, her classroom is the first they experience.

Over a recent lunch on the campus, Barnett explained that kindergarten isn’t like many of the dated notions of it that persist.

“They think you sleep in all of that in kindergarten,” she said. “We don’t do that anymore. It’s really rigorous and we have to push the students.”

Still, there’s always recess and “brain breaks,” which are often song and dance moments.

Asked what she wants a visitor to glean from a visit to Room 302: “I want them to think I have a passion for my job and love and dedication for my children,” she said. “I want them to be totally successful in life. Not just in the classroom, but when they leave the classroom, too.”

Barnett is in her 11th year of teaching. Prior to that, Barnett served nine years in the U.S. Army, attaining the rank of Sergeant. In addition to earning numerous recognitions, including the Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal and Joint Achievement Medal, she mentors with the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program.

Congratulations to Mr. Bonano Alvira and Ms. Bennett. Thank you for your service and your dedication to our country and our students!

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