What a glorious day Monday was for everyone involved in any way with Collier County Public Schools. We saw a sea of smiling faces at the schools we visited. One principal described “a feeling of enthusiasm and excitement” as her school opened for the year.
Bob Spano celebrated his 34th first day as an educator and the Mike Davis Elementary School principal told me it was his best yet! His school, which had a “C” grade last year, began this year with an “A.”
Manatee Middle School is a “B” school for the first time ever, and Principal Peggy Aune thanked parents for helping make it happen. “I really value parent involvement and that’s part of the reason we have great student achievement,” she said.
Immokalee Middle School also opened as a “B” school for the first time. Principal Abel Jaimes says that, as expected, “students were nervous at first and as the day progressed their nerves turned to relief after meeting their teachers and familiarizing themselves with our building.”
Lake Trafford Elementary School Principal Brian Castellani said students “truly displayed the ‘Three R’s’ on the first day – respect, resourcefulness and responsibility.”
Veterans Memorial Elementary School Principal Tim Ferguson’s teachers were excited about launching a leadership development program, “The Leader in Me,” based on Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Lake Park Elementary School’s theme is “Inspired Educators Create Champion Learners.” “We have many ‘young champions’ on their way to a year to be filled with student success and learning,” says Principal Tamie Stewart.
Corkscrew Elementary School Principal Kim Lonergan called it a great day “with wonderful helpers (parent volunteers) called ‘pink pals,’ only one crier (a mom), and a lot of learning!”
Gulf Coast High School Principal Ken Fairbanks led the opening day pep rally as Sharkey the mascot and the students loved it.
An excited Mike Davis Elementary School teacher, Brianna Bailey, one of 425 new teachers, told me she was so very happy. “I have a wonderful class and I’m part of a wonderful team,” Bailey said.
Naples High School Principal Nancy Graham says the kids were great but “my reality on the first day is that if everyone arrives safely, has a place to go each period, eats lunch, and gets home safely, then the first day is a success!”
And that it was! New Superintendent Kamela Patton called Monday an “A++ day for all of our schools.”
- - -
Joe Landon is the executive director of the Communications Services department for the Collier County School District.