In a vibrant celebration of achievement and inclusivity, the Richardson Showcase of
Promise emerged as a beacon of support for Exceptional Student Education (ESE) majors,
uniting alumni, mentor teachers, donors, and partners in a symphony of appreciation
and encouragement.

Crafted through a collaboration between the Office of Development and the ESE Program, this event was designed with a singular goal: to elevate students majoring in ESE
and the ESE program while fostering an environment that embraces every facet of the
ESE community. From the generous scholarship donors to the dedicated faculty across
both Tampa and St. Pete campuses, and the invaluable district mentor-teachers, every
contributor found a place of honor and recognition.

“At its heart, the Richardson Showcase of Promise served as a testament to the power
of community affinity,” exclaimed Dr. Ann Cranston-Gingras, ESE Professor and Associate
Dean for Academic Affairs, who served as event emcee. Supported by the benevolence
of the Richardson Family, whose generosity made this event possible, it underscored the unwavering commitment
to the advancement of ESE education.

ESE Professor of Instruction Dr. Betsy Doone noted, “The highlight of the evening
was undoubtedly the presence of two outstanding alumni who graced the occasion with
their wisdom and inspiration.” Dr. Erica McCray, a shining example of excellence in
the field, delivered a keynote address that resonated with hope and aspiration. Her
journey from student to scholar served as a guiding light for the next generation
of ESE leaders. Dr. McCray serves as Professor of Special Education and Associate
Dean for Personnel Affairs and Community Engagement at the University of Florida and
she is a director of the CEEDAR Center, funded by the US Department of Education,
Office of Special Education Programs.

Additionally, the event welcomed another remarkable alumna, Yaritza Jefferson (insert
alum/grad degree & yr), who presented a stirring “Welcome to the Profession” speech.
Her words echoed with warmth and encouragement, embracing newcomers to the field and
reaffirming the significance of their role in shaping the future of ESE education.
Ms. Jefferson is an ESE high school English teacher for Hillsborough County Public
Schools. In addition, she serves as a site-based Teacher Talent Developer supporting
new teachers to the field.

The Richardson Showcase of Promise demonstrates a community coming together in support
and celebration of its brightest stars—the exceptional students who embody the promise
of tomorrow.

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