Chamber honors Lely teacher, support staff of the year

Stephanie Braun, the Lely High School nurse, snuck into the back of the school’s cafeteria shortly before the 2:10 p.m. staff meeting.

Joyce McFarland, chairwoman of the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce’s education committee, shakes hands with Robert Alvarez, a Lely High School teacher, after he was named teacher of the year Thursday.

Photo by JENNA BUZZACCO-FOERSTER, Eagle staff

Joyce McFarland, chairwoman of the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce’s education committee, shakes hands with Robert Alvarez, a Lely High School teacher, after he was named teacher of the year Thursday.

She, like the rest of the school’s faculty and staff, was expecting a short meeting about end-of-the-year housekeeping and maybe a few cookies afterwards.

But less then 10 minutes into the meeting, Braun heard Lynn Muffley, a Naples Daily News Newspaper in Education representative, call her name: She had just been named Lely High School Support Staff of the Year by the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce.

“I was very surprised,” Braun said Thursday. “I’m going to put (my plaque) in my clinic so I can share it with the students.”

For the past 10 years the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce has honored one teacher and member of the support staff for schools Marco Island students attend. Lely High School was the first school to be presented with the awards this year, said principal Ken Fairbanks.

Robert Alvarez, a tenth-grade English and speech and debate teacher, was chosen as this year’s Teacher of the Year.

Stephanie Braun, a nurse at Lely High School, and Robert Alvarez, a Lely High School English teacher, pose for a picture after being named support staff and teacher of the year by the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce.

Photo by JENNA BUZZACCO-FOERSTER, Eagle staff

Stephanie Braun, a nurse at Lely High School, and Robert Alvarez, a Lely High School English teacher, pose for a picture after being named support staff and teacher of the year by the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce.

“Stephanie Braun is so good with our kids at the clinic, (and) Rob Alvarez is a can-do person,” Fairbanks said. “They are two wonderful people, and I am very proud to have them on our staff.”

Teacher and support staff honorees are chosen based on student votes. Each year students from all of the feeder schools vote in February and March on who they want to win in each category, Fairbanks said.

“It’s a wonderful tradition here at Lely, because the students get to vote for their favorite teacher,” Fairbanks said. “A lot of teachers don’t apply for the Golden Apple, and this is a way for our students to recognize their teachers.”

Alvarez said he felt honored that his students nominated him for the award.

“You would’ve never (thought) this was coming,” Alvarez said. “I was surprised, almost overwhelmed, when they announced my name.”

Joyce McFarland, the education chairwoman for the Chamber, read student comments prior to presenting Alvarez with his award. Students called him a good teacher who is able to put students in their place when need be.

Similar awards will be presented at Tommie Barfield Elementary and Manatee Elementary, as well as Marco Island Charter Middle School later this month.

Lely High’s presentation originally was bscheduled for June 1, but needed to be rescheduled because Braun was going to be out of town.

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