James Martinez announced as Ida S. Baker finalist


James Martinez poses with students after his announcement as a finalist for the Ida S. Baker Diversity Educator of the Year.

The Hillsborough Education Foundation surprised James Martinez during his welding class, announcing him as one of the finalists for the Ida S. Baker Diversity Educator of the Year award. The award is given to teachers who teach a diverse group of students while helping them succeed. The nominees also contribute to their community in various ways.

Out of 235 nominees for the award, Martinez was one of 13 finalists. He has been teaching at Hillsborough for three years and has made it his mission to help students reach a higher level of learning. “I love seeing a student go from not knowing anything to getting engaged in welding and see how they will take it to another level and make a career out of it,” Martinez said. He has submitted the application for the award several times but never passed to the finals stage. “I’m still in shock,” Martinez said. “It’s a very overwhelming feeling because I submitted the application and wrote the essay, but I never thought that I would win. It’s a very humbling feeling and very emotional.” The recipient of the award will be announced January 23.