NAPLES — The Education Foundation of Collier County began with the core belief that teachers have the greatest impact on student learning.
That belief was validated Tuesday evening as more than 1,000 students, parents and community members – dressed in their finest clothes – cheered, held up homemade signs and created thunderous applause as they honored Collier teachers.
The 2010 Golden Apple teachers, Teachers of Distinction and Collier County Teachers of the Year were honored at the 20th annual Golden Apple Teacher Recognition Celebration at the Naples Philharmonic Center for the Arts.
The event honored educators who are, in the words of Naples Park Elementary prekindergarten student Grace Le, “nice and funny” and who “teaches us the A, B, Cs.” Or, in the words of Osceola Elementary fourth-grader Dylan Amisano, “a unique person who always brightens up our day and encourages us to do everything to the best of our ability.”
A teacher who, in the words Tommie Barfield fifth-grader Meagan Hurley, is “the best music teacher of my life.”
Each of the six Golden Apple teachers had an opportunity to address the audience about their profession, their passion and their students.
■ Naples High School exceptional education and career education teacher Jean Lorenz said sometimes the most important lessons students learn are the lessons that teach more about life than facts.
She said she has been fortunate to learn that she has a positive impact when parents tell her that everything she said in class was repeated at the dinner table; when she sees a student, because of success in a job, pull away in a better car than she drives; and, when on graduation night, a student tells her, “I’d never have gotten this if it wasn’t for you.”
■ Tommie Barfield Elementary School teacher Lisa Braren spoke about her passion for music education.
“In my classroom, every child – regardless of ability – succeeds. ... I watch my students blossom into poised, self-confident individuals who are good citizens and display fine character traits.” she said.
Braren thanked the Tommie Barfield community, her family and those she has worked with during her 20 year tenure in Collier County.
■ Tommie Barfield Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Jon Mundorf found he was at a loss for words when writing his speech, until he listened to one of his students, who told him that the Apple Award was the starting line, not the finish line.
“I believe we have a responsibility to ensure that all of our students are prepared for their futures, not our pasts,” he said.
Mundorf said there were passionate educators working diligently in Collier County to design curriculum that would make schools more inclusive, engaging and effective for students.
■ Naples Park Elementary School prekindergarten teacher Kate Hickie brought two friends, puppets Kiko and Rosa, with her to the podium.
“I strive to engage children, not just for today, but to prepare them for tomorrow. We use all of our senses in our classroom and it’s messy at times,” she said. “In our acquisitions of knowledge, we incorporate visual cues, auditory strategies and kinesthetic strategies. Yes, we read a lot of books, but then we use puppets and acting to recreate the story.”
■ Osceola Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Diane Fontdevila said a teacher’s job is to provide students with the tools they will need as they trek through life.
“There will be magical trails, some perilous ones as well, yet discovering hidden talents and gifts will lead to spectacular experiences,” she said.
■ Pelican Marsh Elementary School second grade teacher Angela Loerzel said she felt like Cinderella.
“A princess with a shining golden apple,” she said, beaming. “You see, this is just my fifth year of teaching. I never imagined that my first career in marketing would prepare me so well to be a Golden Apple teacher. ... I’m very blessed to have found such a rewarding way to help others.”
The Golden Apple process begins in the fall, when students, parents and community members nominate teachers from around the county for an Apple. Teachers may choose to apply for the award through a written application. A selection committee, which is made of former educators, parents and community members, narrows the field of applications to 60. The 60 teachers are then observed and scored by members of the Core Committee, which is a group of community volunteers.
The application and initial observation are scored and the field of 60 teachers is narrowed to the 31 Teachers of Distinction. The selection committee then interviews each teacher, conducts more classroom observations and scores them.
The six Golden Apple teachers are chosen from the Teachers of Distinction and all 31 were honored Tuesday for their commitment to education.
Here are profiles of the 2010 Collier County Golden Apple teachers: