2020 News Stories

USF College of Education announces recipients of 2020 Distinguished Alumni Awards

TAMPA, Fla. (May 5, 2020) — The University of South Florida (USF) College of Education is proud to announce the recipients of the College’s 2020 Distinguished Alumni Awards.

Each year, the College of Education presents our Distinguished Alumni Awards to celebrate the outstanding accomplishments of our graduates. Recipients are selected by a committee of College of Education faculty, staff and administrators from nominations submitted by the USF community.

Mona Jain

Mohinder “Mona” Jain, MD, PhD `84

Mohinder “Mona” Jain, MD, PhD `84 — Dean's Lifetime Achievement Alumni Award  

The recipient of the Dean's Lifetime Achievement Alumni Award is recognized as a community member who has demonstrated long-term contributions, achievement and service within education or a related profession—on a local, state, regional, national and/or global level.

Dr. Mohinder “Mona” Jain has dedicated her career to the field of education and to serving as a fearless advocate for her students. An immigrant from India, Jain has served as both a teacher and administrator for American, British and Indian educational systems since 1961. She earned a PhD in Interdisciplinary Education and with a cognate in Educational Leadership from the College of Education in 1984.
Jain served on the Florida Governor’s Commission on Education, as past chair and on the executive board of the Florida Commission on the Status of Women and was president of the American Association of University Women. She was as an educator at middle and high schools in Sarasota and Manatee counties and was director of family health services for Manatee County’s Head Start program. From 1990-2006, she was an administrator and adjunct faculty member at Bethune-Cookman University’s Bradenton campus and at Nova Southeastern University.
A Fulbright scholar and previous winner of USF’s Distinguished Alumna Award and USF Sarasota-Manatee’s Distinguished Professional Achievement Award, Dr. Jain has earned numerous degrees throughout her career. In addition to her PhD from USF, she received her MD from Spartan Health Sciences University School of Medicine and an EdS in Administration and Supervision from Nova Southeastern University. She also holds an MS in Science Education from Florida State University, and two degrees from Delhi University, a BEd in Biological and Health Sciences and a BSc in Biology, Chemistry and History of Sciences.
In recognition of Jain’s long-standing career in education and years of dedication to supporting schools in the Manatee County School District, the Dr. Mona Jain Middle School was opened and named in her honor in 2019.

Sara-Kay Bonti

Sara-Kay Bonti, `88 & MEd `07

Sara-Kay Bonti, `88 & MEd `07— Spirit of Partnership Alumni Award 

The Spirit of Partnership Alumni Award is presented to an individual who has gone "above and beyond" in their service to the College of Education, and who the College of Education expresses deep appreciation for as someone who has created and sustained partnerships within both the community and the College to help achieve its mission.
A two-time graduate of the College of Education, Sara-Kay Bonti still spends her time making frequent commutes to the USF campus. Instead of attending classes as a student, she now works in close collaboration with the College of Education to help students transition from aspiring teachers to professional educators. 
Bonti serves as the HR Supervisor for Recruitment for Hillsborough County Public Schools. In this role, she works in close collaboration with the College of Education’s Office of Field and Clinical Education to secure field placements for students in USF’s teacher preparation programs. This year alone, she has assisted USF with placing approximately 150 students in schools across the Hillsborough County school district.
Bonti received her bachelor’s degree in English Education in 1988. During her studies at USF, she was a distinguished member of the College and participated in the SCATTER Program, an educational honors program housed in the College of Education. She later returned to USF to pursue her master’s degree in educational leadership.
Today, in addition to helping USF students get the hands-on experience needed to be successful educators, Bonti partners with the university by hosting professional development trainings and leading conversations to strengthen partnerships between USF and Hillsborough Schools, with the goal of creating alignment between the district’s needs and the training USF provides its students. She has proven herself to be an outstanding partner and supporter of the mission and vision of the College of Education.   

Francesca Perrone-Britt

Francesca Perrone-Britt, `10 & MA `12

Francesca Perrone-Britt, `10 & MA `12 — Young Educators Alumni Award

The Young Educators Alumni Award recognizes a graduate of the university who received their degree within the past 10 years and who is 35 years of age or younger. The award recognizes the work of a graduate who serves as an exemplary leader in the field of education among their peers and in their community.   
Francesca Perrone-Britt is a two-time graduate of USF’s College of Education, having received her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education in 2010 and her master’s degree in Reading Education in 2012. While at USF, she was a member of the SCATTER Program, Kappa Delta Pi and the Golden Key National Honor Society. She currently serves as a fifth-grade teacher at Mort Elementary School, a community partnership school, in Tampa.
Since graduating from USF, Perrone-Britt has had many accomplishments. She has received awards such as the 2017 USF College of Education’s Outstanding Practitioner Research Award and the 2017 Claudia A. Balach Teacher Research Award from the American Education Research Association’s Professional Development Schools Research Special Interest Group. Perrone-Britt was selected as Teacher of the Year at Mort in 2015-16 and as Hillsborough Schools’ Elementary Reading Teacher of the Year in 2016.
In 2013, Perrone-Britt participated in the inaugural class of the Mort Teacher Leader Academy, a customized program that allows teachers at Mort to work toward a Teacher Leadership for Student Learning graduate certificate or an advanced credential from USF’s elementary education program while still on-site in their classrooms. Since completing the Academy, Perrone-Britt has put what she’s learned to practice, serving for three years as the lead team facilitator of English/Language Arts instruction for the school. She is continuing her leadership work by serving as her grade level’s team facilitator and as a collaborating teacher for residents in USF’s Urban Teacher Residency Partnership Program.
Perrone-Britt continued her studies by pursuing an educational specialist degree from USF and will graduate from the program this month.

For more information, please contact:
Elizabeth Engasser
Director of Communications
USF College of Education
(813) 974-8723

About the University of South Florida: 
The University of South Florida is a high-impact global research university dedicated to student success. Over the past 10 years, no other public university in the country has risen faster in U.S. News and World Report’s national university rankings than USF. Serving more than 50,000 students on campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee, USF is designated as a Preeminent State Research University by the Florida Board of Governors, placing it in the most elite category among the state’s 12 public universities. USF has earned widespread national recognition for its success graduating under-represented minority and limited-income students at rates equal to or higher than white and higher income students. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference. Learn more at www.usf.edu.