Hillsborough school employee wins $10,000 prize
Lynette Henry thought she was coming to Just Elementary School for a staff meeting to discuss magnet schools.
Instead she was surprised by Hillsborough Superintendent MaryEllen Elia with a $10,000 check. Henry was the seventh school employee to receive the prize for the annual “We Deliver” Award.
Elia started the award program in 2006 in partnership with the nonprofit Hillsborough Education Foundation.
“It’s an award that goes to a Hillsborough employee … who goes above and beyond the call of duty, somebody who delivers miracles every day,” Elia said.
This year a committee reviewed and voted on 280 nominated employees.
Henry was honored for her volunteer work after hours and for mentoring programs, such as “Just Love,” that she shepherded as a guidance counselor at the elementary school. She was at the school for about five years.
Though she now is a college and guidance counselor at Hillsborough High School, Henry has stayed involved at her former elementary school.
“They are really the miracles,” Henry said of the children she has helped. “That’s where my heart is.”
The congregation at Idlewild Baptist Church has partnered with the Just Love program for years, contributing more than 3,000 volunteer hours. In addition, church members have donated 300 book bags and holiday gifts. Last October, Henry and church members provided families at Just Love with a week’s worth of food and household supplies.
Elia said Henry has been a tireless volunteer and gracious leader who worked weekends “to improve the life of the children she loves.”
“Love is something we can always give to people,” Henry said. “We reach out and make a difference. I feel like I’m loved and I want to share that love. Really, that’s truly where it all comes from.”
The cash award will help Henry finish her doctorate at the University of South Florida. Her research includes an evaluation of Just Love and ways to improve the program. She also hopes to provide video cameras for classroom use “so we can hear (children’s) voices.”
“I’m doing the right thing,” Henry said. “I’m so excited.”
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