RIVERVIEW — The Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce and its business partners overwhelmed Dawn Ashkenaz with its support Thursday.
She enjoyed a wonderful breakfast, listened to inspiring speakers and got to take home a giant-sized goody bag filled with school supplies.
Ashkenaz hopes her first year as a reading teacher at Newsome High School in Lithia goes as well.
"I think this is amazing," she said. "The support is wonderful. Teacher recognition is really important."
On Thursday at the Regent in Riverview, the chamber recognized first-year teachers, teachers new to the area and the educators honored at their schools as 2012-13 Teacher of the Year.
A similar event took place Friday at the Destiny Church in Ruskin, sponsored by the SouthShore Chamber of Commerce.
Tanya Doran, executive director of the Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce, said the business community is supportive of schools, teachers and students. The breakfast, she said, is one way to honor them.
"This is our way to reach out to the teachers," she said. "We care about their needs."
Doran said the event couldn't have happened without the support of the business community.
Angie Frazier, co-owner of Canine Cabana, a dog day care, lodging and training facility in Riverview, has supported the event for four years. She contributed money and donated items for the event's raffle.
Frazier, a parent of two children in Hillsborough County public schools, said the breakfast is a great way to show appreciation to teachers who dedicate their lives to helping children.
"It is my favorite event because I love the teachers," she said. "I love the way they give back to the students and the community."
The Riverview event boasted many speakers, including Hillsborough County school superintendent MaryEllen Elia and Spoto High School teacher Cassandra Mattison, the county's 2012-13 Teacher of the Year.
Mattison urged the teachers to be there for their students, saying every student deserves to have someone in their corner.
"You've got to take time to know who your children are," she said.
Mattison, who explained that she did not come from a wealthy family, said she got to where she is today because of caring teachers. She credited teachers at every level of her schooling — elementary, middle and high school — for taking an interest in her and her education.
Mattison said she is happy to spend her days helping students.
"It's hard work. It's challenging," she said. "But it's the most rewarding thing I've experienced in my entire life."
Melanie Morrison, executive director of the SouthShore Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber and its local businesses support schools because they consider them partners in the community.
In addition to breakfast and other goodies, schools in the area received a special gift worth $150.
Morrison said the support isn't a one-time event — it's a year-round effort to work with local schools.
"We always want to see if we can help," she said.
Monica Bennett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.