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Manatee County Teacher and Support Employee of the Year announced

The School District of Manatee County is proud to announce the winners of the 2024 Excellence in Education Awards. A tremendous event was held at Manatee High School last Thursday evening, February 8, 2024, to celebrate public education.


Katie Bagley, 3rd grade Academy Teacher - Prine Elementary School

5 years with School District of Manatee County

As a young girl, Katie found herself in a safe place surrounded by adults who taught her things most don’t learn in a classroom. “I learned morals, life skills and how to be a good citizen,” said Katie. “School was never a place I went solely to learn academics.” Her experience inspired her to become the teacher she is today. When she’s not delivering remarkable results in student growth, Katie is motivating running buddies as a coach for Prine Elementary School’s Girls on the Run team. She also started a fifth-grade science club, which sparked excitement throughout the entire school. As a new teacher mentor, she takes pride in leading 24 educators on a successful path. “Katie Bagley’s outstanding contributions as a 3rd grade academy teacher, mentor, leader and community volunteer, make her an exemplary candidate for this prestigious recognition,” said Principal Greg Sander. “Her dedication, passion and positive impact on our school community cannot be overstated.” What’s next for Katie? She aspires to become a school principal.



Denise Costello, Paraprofessional - Sea Breeze Elementary School

23 years with School District of Manatee County


Denise lives by the philosophy of always going the extra mile. While dedicated to helping students improve their reading and math skills, she is also a passionate volunteer for the parent-teacher organization and organizes the school’s annual Walk-A-Thon. “Over the years, I’ve encouraged everyone to do a small part,” said Denise. “I’ve always believed that people just want to be involved, not overwhelmed.” Her position allows her to work with students and help them build their leadership skills. As safety patrol coordinator for 13 years, Denise has taught students how to serve their school as role models for safe, responsible, and respectful behavior. Lessons she says will serve them well into their future. “Denise has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to Sea Breeze Elementary School,” said Principal Aliki Bovoletis. “She is a dedicated, passionate and supportive paraprofessional, who makes a significant difference in the lives of her students and colleagues.”

Both winners receive a $5,000 cash prize, provided by Suncoast Credit Union; four tickets to a 2024 spring training game at LECOM Park, courtesy of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Bradenton Marauders; and exclusive use of the Mayor’s Suite at LECOM Park for 24 friends and family during a Spring Training game. 

In addition, the Educator of the Year received a trip for two to Hawaii, including round trip airfare and hotel, courtesy of Astro Skating Centers; and an all-expenses paid trip to the University of Notre Dame for the Notre Dame Excellence in Teaching Conference.

Katie Bagley will now advance to the Florida Department of Education Teacher of the Year Program, while Denise Costello will advance to the Florida School-Related Employee of the Year Program.

The remaining six finalists, also deserving of the “Educator of the Year” and “Support Employee of the Year” recognition, received a custom engraved award and $1,000 cash award from the Manatee Education Foundation.

The Excellence in Education Awards wouldn’t have been possible without the generosity of our community partners, including the Manatee Education Foundation, and a long list of event sponsors. Please visit for details.