BROOKSVILLE — Still in shock, Yvette Hart showed up for work at D.S. Parrott Middle School on Friday morning as if it were just another school day.
A bouquet of roses, still fresh in a vase on her desk from the night before, were fragrant reminders of her selection Thursday as the Hernando County School District's School Related Employee of the Year.
Chosen from 25 workers from educational sites across the county, Hart said she heard one voice among many as her name was announced. "That's my mommy! That's my mommy!" yelled her daughter, Nyki Holland, 16.
Hart, 45, is an exceptional student education paraprofessional who spends much of her time in Parrott's Alternative to Suspension classroom.
The student population there is fluid as youngsters who need extra help from time to time, or a place to refocus, can get assistance.
Besides the student-made decorations in the classroom, Hart now has a plaque with a gold star that she received as the Parrott Middle School Related Employee of the Year and another with a clock in it that she received Thursday night.
"I love this school so much," she said, "I would do anything for them." If the school wanted a hole, she said, she'd get a shovel from her car.
"I've always wanted to be around kids," she said. "Always, always, always. Half of them call me Mom out here."
Hart, a Hernando High School graduate, is in her sixth year at Parrott Middle. She wants to stay, but she would like her future there to be as a teacher.
She has her associate's degree, which she finished this summer. She is taking University of South Florida classes through a program at Pasco/Hernando Community College to become an exceptional student education, or ESE, teacher.
Principal Leechele Booker watches Hart's studies very carefully and expects Hart to succeed and teach at her school. She was delighted when Hart was named School Related Employee of the Year.
"I'm so excited," she said. "There's no one as deserving of this honor as Ms. Hart. She's awesome. We're lucky to have her. She's just such a great part of our family."
Hart's students know why she was chosen.
"She knows what all the kids want and need," said eighth-grader Adam Buckner, 13. "She's nice to everybody. She's just a cool teacher. She knows how to be with the kids."
Eighth-grader Mondre Merriweather, 13, said, "She's nice and she's willing to do extra stuff. She's like a mom to me."
Seventh-grader Jason Jernigan, 13, said, "She's really funny. Sometimes she jokes and she gives work for people and always knows what to do."
During her free time, Hart is an avid reader; she attends her daughter's softball games, and volunteers with Pastor Clarence Clark's Shiloh Problem Solvers, a teen-mentoring program.
Hart's mother, Iris Delgado, a retired Parrott Middle and Springstead High teacher; her father, Carmelo Delgado, who is a writer; and her grown son, Eddie Holland, also fill out her life when she's not in school.