Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough gives top award to teacher who likes to check in with students, parents

TAMPA — Parents who get phone calls from Maria Torres-Crosby are often nervous at first.

Then they realize Torres-Crosby, a sixth-grade English teacher at Memorial Middle School, is just checking in.

"I want students and parents to know that I recognize the extraordinary things that their students are doing," Torres-Crosby wrote in an essay on the way to being chosen as Hillsborough County Teacher of the Year.

Torres-Crosby, who received the good news Tuesday evening, listed her many national and state certifications, the teacher training sessions she attends and leads, the assemblies she organizes at school and the work she has done to fine-tune her skills.

She also described her classroom, decorated with pictures of her family and pets, and the quarterly newsletter she sends out to make sure parents stay engaged.

"My goal has always been to provide our students with the best education I can offer," she wrote. "It is my belief that every student has the ability to learn and the right to be taught."

Torres-Crosby, 47, has been with the school district since 1996.

"Words cannot express my gratitude," she told those gathered for the annual awards ceremony at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts.

"Teaching is a gift and I believe I've been blessed to recognize this gift all these years," she said. "I really feel that I don't deserve this because I get paid to do something that I love."She joined Jefferson High School welding teacher Pedro Castrejon and Franklin Boys Preparatory Academy secretary Terranique Ragins in taking top honors at a ceremony.

Castrejon, 31, was named Ida S. Baker Diversity Educator of the Year. A former Jefferson welding student himself, Castrejon combines vocational instruction with life coaching by helping his students learn how to dress, order from a restaurant menu and fill out citizenship paperwork.

Ragins, 42, earned enthusiastic reviews as Instructional Support Employee of the Year for her work as the principal's secretary at Franklin.

In addition to her core duties, she was instrumental in organizing a bus mentor program in partnership with the bus drivers, to cut down on behavior problems on the way to school and make sure students are prepared when they arrive.

Hillsborough gives top award to teacher who likes to check in with students, parents 02/28/17 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 28, 2017 10:21pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Review: Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald team up to cool down the Clearwater Jazz Holiday


    A cool breeze swept through Coachman Park Saturday night. Couple of them, actually.

    Kenny Loggins performed at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday on Oct. 21, 2017.
  2. No. 16 USF hangs on at Tulane, off to first 7-0 start


    NEW ORLEANS — After half a season of mismatches, USF found itself in a grudge match Saturday night.

    USF quarterback Quinton Flowers (9) runs for a touchdown against Tulane during the first half of an NCAA college football game in New Orleans, La., Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Derick E. Hingle) LADH103
  3. Lightning buries Penguins (w/video)

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Ryan Callahan spent a lot of time last season rehabilitating his injured hip alongside Steven Stamkos, who was rehabbing a knee after season-ending surgery. During those hours, Callahan noticed two things about Stamkos: his hunger and his excitement to return this season.

    Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Slater Koekkoek (29) advances the puck through the neutral zone during the first period of Saturday???‚??„?s (10/21/17) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins at Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  4. Spain planning to strip Catalonia of its autonomy


    BARCELONA, Spain — The escalating confrontation over Catalonia's independence drive took its most serious turn Saturday as Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of Spain announced he would remove the leadership of the restive region and initiate a process of direct rule by the central government in Madrid.

    Demonstrators in Barcelona protest the decision to take control of Catalonia to derail the independence movement.
  5. Funeral held for soldier at center of political war of words (w/video)


    COOPER CITY — Mourners remembered not only a U.S. soldier whose combat death in Africa led to a political fight between President Donald Trump and a Florida congresswoman but his three comrades who died with him.

    The casket of Sgt. La David T. Johnson of Miami Gardens, who was killed in an ambush in Niger. is wheeled out after a viewing at the Christ The Rock Church, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017  in Cooper City, Fla. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP) FLMIH102