TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Governor Rick Scott and First Lady Ann Scott today announced the 2015 Black History Month student and teacher contests winners. The winners will be honored tonight during the Black History Month reception at the Governor’s mansion. The reception celebrates the contributions African-American community leaders, educators and students make to Florida’s communities, culture and history.

Governor Scott said, “Each year, Black History Month signifies a time to celebrate our nation’s rich and diverse culture, and recognize the great African American leaders who have helped define freedom and equality. Their influence has made an incredible impact on Florida’s heritage, and contributed to making our state the best place to live, work, and raise a family. I applaud the Florida teachers and students who participated in this year’s contests and learned more about African American history.”


First Lady Ann Scott said, “We are very excited to recognize the Florida K-12 students who participated in the 2015 Black History Month art and essay contests. I have traveled across our beautiful state, and have had many opportunities to visit elementary, middle, and high schools. Education is very close to my heart, and the creativity of Florida’s students and teachers is a constant inspiration. Thank you to all who have participated in this month’s celebration of African American heritage, and helped to preserve its significance.”


Lt. Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera said, “Florida’s cultural heritage has been shaped in large part by the contributions of African American leaders. I hope that all Floridians take the time to recognize the significance of Black History Month, and the many contributions of the African American community in Florida.”


The 2015 Black History Month featured artist is George Miller, II. Miller’s artwork advocates for the education and well-being of children. He is a self-taught artist and his work has been commissioned by numerous child advocacy organizations across the country. Miller’s studio is based in Jacksonville, Florida.

Governor Scott and First Lady Ann Scott honored three outstanding educators with the Excellence in Education Award. These individuals were nominated by students and peers, and each will receive $1,500.


Excellence in Education award winners are:

Jacqueline Baptiste-Harris – Village Green Environmental Studies School, Port St. Lucie, FL (St. Lucie County)
Frances Knight – Riversprings Middle School, Crawfordville, FL (Wakulla County)
Michael C. Warren – Alachua MYcroSchool for Integrated Academics and Technology, Gainesville, FL (Alachua County)

The following student essay contest winners – one elementary, one middle, and one high school student – will receive a four-year Florida College Plan scholarship provided by the Florida Prepaid College Foundation.

Student essay contest winners are:

Robert Joseph “RJ” Simmons, Fishhawk Creek Elementary, Lithia, FL (4th-5th grade)
Valeria Morfin, Oasis Middle School, Bradenton, FL (6th-8th grade)
Chyna Lindsay, Tampa Bay Technical High School, Seffner, FL (9th-12th grade)

The following student art contest recipients will each receive $250.

Student art contest winners are:

Makela Ruiz-Rossi – Hawkes Bluff Elementary in Southwest Ranches, FL (Kindergarten-1st grade)
Madalyn Stewart – Riversink Elementary in Crawfordville, FL (2nd-3rd grade)

The Black History Month reception and awards are supported by the Florida Lottery, Florida Prepaid College Foundation, Volunteer Florida Foundation, Comcast, AT&T, Florida Power and Light, Prudential, Publix, and Brighthouse Networks.