TaxWatch Staff
/ Categories: Releases

Florida TaxWatch Recognizes Education Innovators at Principal Leadership Awards Dinner

ORLANDO, Fla. – On Thursday, May 23, Florida TaxWatch (FTW) recognized nine of Florida’s most effective leaders in high-risk K-12 public schools during the 2018-19 Principal Leadership Awards (PLA) Dinner in Orlando. Three principals, one selected from each category (elementary, middle and high school) took home top honors. Florida TaxWatch established the PLA program in 2013, to recognize and reward the work of principals, and promote their unique practices throughout the state.

"This year’s nine outstanding principals truly embody transformational leadership by dedicating their lives to assure that their students are successful, both in and out of the classroom,” said Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic M. Calabro. “Florida TaxWatch is honored to partner with great public and private entities to promote solid learning environments that will guarantee a bright future for the state of Florida’s and its next generation of leader."

Top honors went to principal Rhonda Williams of Barbara Hawkins Elementary School in Miami-Dade County, who stated “I always said that this profession was not my first choice, but thank God it is my last. I love what I do, and I just can’t wait to get back and tell my students how awesome they are.”
Middle School winner, principal Karen French of Ferrell Middle Magnet School in Hillsborough County shared that “Our school creed is the foundation of who we are, strong confident young women. This represents my students and my staff, and so I thank them.”

High School principal Victoriano Rodriguez of International Studies Charter School in Miami-Dade County said “I want to thank my mother who is no longer with me, but I try to instill the things she instilled in me in my students. I try to instill passion and tell them how important it is to move forward and be successful, not only to graduate from high school but to graduate from a university and continue to be successful in their careers.”


The nine 2018-2019 Principal Leadership Award honorees are:

Elementary School Winners

Tracy Bowers, Wewahitchka Elementary School, Gulf County

Kristina Alvarez, Alexander Elementary School, Hillsborough County

Rhonda Williams, Barbara Hawkins Elementary School, Miami-Dade County

Middle School Winners

Mike Fantaski, Addie R. Lewis Middle School, Okaloosa County

Karen French, Ferrell Middle Magnet School, Hillsborough County

Mason Clark, Golden Gate Middle School, Collier County

High School Winners

Bill McElroy, Professional Academies Magnet at Loften High School, Alachua County

Paula Evans, Professional and Technical High School, Osceola County

Victoriano Rodriguez, International Studies Charter School, Miami-Dade County


The PLA program would not be possible without the support of FTW’s generous sponsors - The Florida Lottery, SunTrust Bank, Kyra Solutions, BrightStar Credit Union, Florida Prepaid, Charter Communications, J.M. Rubin Foundation, Helios Education Foundation, Wells Fargo, Gulf Power, Florida Press Association, Florida Trend and Verizon. For more information about the PLA Program and the 2018 – 2019 winners, click here.


About Florida TaxWatch

As an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit government watchdog and taxpayer research institute for forty years, the trusted eyes and ears of Florida taxpayers, Florida TaxWatch, works to improve the productivity and accountability of Florida government. Its research recommends productivity enhancements and explains the statewide impact of fiscal and economic policies and practices on citizens and businesses. Florida TaxWatch is supported by voluntary, tax-deductible donations and private grants, and does not accept government funding. Donations provide a solid, lasting foundation that has enabled Florida TaxWatch to bring about a more effective, responsive government that is more accountable to, and productive for, the citizens it serves since 1979. For more information, please visit

Previous Article Florida TaxWatch Releases Statement Relating to the Halifax Hospital Taxing District Legislation
Next Article The Florida Cabinet Recognizes July 2019 As “TaxWatch Productivity Awards Recognition Month”
442 Rate this article:
No rating