Through the years, Tommie Barfield Elementary (TBE) has seen its share of Golden Apple Teachers make their way down the hallway of fame. Like in year’s prior, the tedious selection process began in September with nominations cast, requirements met, applications submitted and 100 teachers chosen as candidates for the prestigious award.
Next, a committee from the Education Foundation of Collier County observed the teachers in a classroom setting, narrowing down the candidates to the top 40 teachers in the county, calling them “teachers of distinction.” This year, only one teacher from Tommie Barfield Elementary made it that far, to the last and final round, with a chance to become a Golden Apple Teacher next year.
Donna Condee, kindergarten teacher was left “speechless” Tuesday morning, as she was surprised during an assembly in the TBE cafeteria. A representative from the Education Foundation along with the principal of TBE showed up to let her know of her new status as one of the top 40 “teachers of distinction” in Collier County.
Condee will receive a $1,000 grant for professional use and membership into the 2008 Academy of Teachers. Final observation to pick the top six Golden Apple winners will take place the beginning of next year.
“I am shocked but humbled because I know that I am no better than any of the teachers on my team at Tommie Barfield,” said Condee. “I did apply once before. It was years ago when our principal at the time had nominated every teacher in the school and asked us all to apply. So we did and we all enjoyed a beautiful luncheon at the Ritz.”
She added, “I don’t feel I’m any better than anyone else though. The reason I applied this year, is that I had a dear friend, 95 years old, who passed away this past summer. She kept on me to do this. She made me promise that I would. So I did it for her. I think I’ve made it this far because of her. I don’t think that this is for any other reason than divine intervention.”
Nevertheless, the Education Foundation of Collier County believes Condee really does stand out from the rest, displaying many outstanding qualities of a Golden Apple Teacher. During observation, teachers must show signs of an effective learning environment, knowledge of curriculum, strength of instruction, classroom management skills and excellent student-teacher relationships. Condee says the “love of children” is, in her opinion, the most important quality of a good teacher.
“We have to love what we’re doing if we’re going to be effective. There are times throughout the year when teachers say, ‘We should write this down and make a book,’” she said. “One moment like that happened this year when we were studying the sound of “C.” I asked a student what the sound of “C” was, and he said ‘tat.’ I said, ‘what word is tat?’ And he said, ‘Don’t you know The Tat in the Hat?’ And I got such a laugh out of it. That was one of the latest things that happened and I thought, ‘I need to write this down.’”
The 18 Annual Golden Apple Teacher Recognition Celebration will take place on May 6, 2008 at the Philharmonic Center for the Arts.
The process will not only provide teachers with professional growth opportunities, leadership development and community connections, but winners will also receive $2,000 in cash, an engraved Golden Apple, an 18 karat gold lapel pin and other special gifts from the community.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to be in the top forty. With all that’s going on recently with the ‘work to rule,’ I just hope this points out how hard we work,” Condee said.
“I have three children who are grown and I am very proud of my daughter who is teaching at Golden Gate Elementary. It’s her second year there. I hope I’ve influenced her as well. She has that ‘love of children’ that I’ve had since I was younger. When I was little, I would always pretend that I was a teacher.”
For more information, contact The Education Foundation of Collier County at 643-4755 or visit www.educationforcollier.org.