Students at Henry B. Plant High School are united by special needs instructor, Mary Radigan.
Radigan leads several programs for her students that teach more than academics. They learn work and social skills that are critical for life after graduation.
“The staff and the student body embrace this population and there’s so much acceptance to diversity,” Radigan said. “The whole world is inclusion.”
She was recognized as Hillsborough County’s Teacher of the Year in March for her work. Plant High Principal Robert Nelson is grateful to have her on his staff.
“She takes it to the next level,” Nelson said. “The patience she has for her kids, the kindness, and the way she advocates for them set her apart.”
Students learn basic work skills at a coffee shop on campus. They brew, sell, and deliver coffee right outside of their classroom.
They also built and now maintain an organic garden on campus. Soil and plants grown are studied by AP Environmental Studies students. The fruits and vegetables are used in the school cafeteria.
“I like it because of the exposure,” Radigan said. “They’re out there working and it promotes inclusion with the students walking by.”
Additionally, Radigan is a coach of the Unified Special Olympics teams. Plant High Special Olympics teams for flag football and basketball competed at the state level this year.
“To be a successful school you want to give them those extracurricular activities,” Nelson said. “You want to create that culture where kids are excited to come to school.”