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Booker High teacher aide named School-Related Employee of the Year

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SREOY with wife and C Zucker 2017SREOY with Toyota of Sarasota Sales Mgr Scott Foster

HONORED EMPLOYEE: In top photo, teacher aide Anthony Chioccarelli, center, celebrates being named the 2017 School-Related Employee of the Year with his wife Deirdre, at left, and School Board Chair Caroline Zucker. Bottom photo: Toyota of Sarasota Sales Manager Scott Foster, left, hands Sarasota County School-Related Employee of the Year the keys to a 2017 Corolla LE to School-Related Employee of the Year Anthony Chioccarelli. The Booker High School teacher aide will have the use of the car for a year.

SARASOTA, May 11, 2017 — The Sarasota County School District has named a Booker High School teacher aide the School-Related Employee of the Year. The announcement that Anthony “Tony” Chioccarelli Jr. was this year’s top honoree was made today at a luncheon at Michael’s on East in Sarasota. School Board Chairwoman Caroline Zucker, Superintendent of Schools Todd Bowden and last year’s winner, Administrative Assistant Betsy Hooper, were among the speakers.

Chioccarelli, 62, was among the 50 nominees selected from over 2,000 support staff members who work throughout the district’s schools and departments. He will serve as a goodwill ambassador for the district until spring 2018. All the nominees received awards at the luncheon.

As with the district’s Teacher of the Year designation, many worthy support staff members vie for the title of School-Related Employee of the Year. All employees who are not teachers or administrators are eligible to be nominated, including teachers’ aides, clerical workers, bus drivers, food service workers, custodians and groundskeepers, to name a few.

Accepting the top award, Chioccarelli was effusive about the influence of his wife, Deirdre. “I have to thank her; she’s the light of my life and the love of my life,” he said. “My son tells me, ‘Dad, you’re the Bill Gates of love — you struck it rich.’ I would not be here without my wife and Dr. Shelley.’” Rachel Shelley is the principal of Booker High School and a finalist for this year’s state Principal of the Year award.  

Chioccarelli said Shelley “took a chance on a retired businessman who wanted to reinvent himself. I couldn’t be more grateful.” For 30 years, Chioccarelli was a healthcare executive and consultant. He said being a teacher aide for students with learning differences, many of whom face a number of challenges, has given him a renewed sense of purpose in his life.

“A lot of what we do is to help teachers motivate students,” he explained. “Sometimes I feel guilty because students give me more than I give them. Those magic moments when a kid walks up to me in the hallway and shakes my hand ‘old-man style,’ are — as they say in the credit card commercials — priceless.” In a conversation after the ceremony, Chioccarelli did his own commercial. “Please let people know that we need more teacher aides in the classroom,” he said. “Special things happen in the classroom when aides work with our students and our dedicated teachers.”

After learning he was the winner, Chioccarelli was handed the keys to a 2017 Toyota Corolla SE to drive for a year, courtesy of Toyota of Sarasota. For the 11th consecutive year, the dealership is the Lead Sponsor of the School-Related Employee of the Year program.

The event’s Platinum Sponsors are the School Based Administrators organization, the School District Administrators organization, Harvard Jolly Architects, Neal Communities, ProFloors, Tampa Bay Trane, Tandem Construction and School Board member Eric Robinson of Robinson, Hanks, Young & Roberts, P.A. Robinson donated a Club Level weekend at the Ritz-Carlton and a $500 gift certificate for the winner.

Gold Sponsors are the Education Foundation of Sarasota County, Florida Blue, Magnum Builders, McIntyre Elwell & Strammer Contractors, Jon F. Swift Construction, Florida Blue, Neal Communities, Sweet Sparkman Architects, Tandus Centiva and Willis Smith Construction.


Silver Sponsors are Bencor, Cristal/Haneian Attorneys at Law, Landscape941, ME 3 Engineers, Publix Super Markets Charities, Re-Ex Insurance Broker and Springer-Peterson Roofing.


Friends of the event are the Sarasota Classified/Teachers Association and the Sarasota County Association of Educational Office Professionals.


Suncoast Technical College Digital Video Production Program students photographed and videotaped the luncheon. Booker High School music students provided entertainment. Venice Middle School Young Marines presented the colors. 


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