District Employee Named Florida School Counselor of the Year


When Larissa Bennett went to work on Halloween, she was expecting to start the day off with a costume parade. The School Counselor didn’t know that her family, friends, students, colleagues and District administrators were waiting for her in the media center at Mills Elementary School in Palmetto.



Then the Superintendent emerged from the crowd calling Mrs. Bennett’s name… Dr. Diana Greene had a surprise announcement.



Larissa Bennett is the recipient of the Florida Counselor of the Year Award. She will receive the award at the Florida School Counselor Association (FSCA) Convention, which is being held November 2-4, 2017 in Orlando. After receiving the news, she shared a hug with her sons and took photos with her school family.



The School Counselor of the Year Award honors school counselors who devote their careers to serving as advocates for the students and addressing their academic, social/developmental, college/career readiness and special needs. According to FSCA, The School Counselor of the Year Award honors the best of the best – counselors who are running a top-notch, comprehensive school counseling program at either the elementary, middle or high school level.


(L-to-R) Mills’ Assistant Principal Deb Riley, Larissa Bennett, Principal James Mennes


Larissa Bennett has worked for the School District of Manatee County for 16 years. The former teacher has been a School Counselor for 12 years – and has spent the last four years working at Mills Elementary. Education is a family business — her husband, Joshua, is the Principal of Bashaw Elementary School. Her sister, Kami Lake (pictured far right), is a School Social Worker for the School District of Manatee County — and their mother (pictured far left), a retired school social worker.


(L-to-R) Principal James Mennes, Larissa Bennett and Mike Rio, Executive Director of Elementary Education


Congratulations, Larissa… we’re so proud of your accomplishments and thank you for supporting our students!

#WeManatee stands for We are the School District of Manatee County. No matter what challenges we face, we strengthen each other when we stand together.




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