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Ceremony honors Lighthouse Award recipients and more

By Staff | May 29, 2009

The city of Cape Coral’s Municipal Charter School Foundation hosted its inaugural Lighthouse Award Ceremony Thursday night underneath the covered pavilion at Cape Harbour.
Kevin Colpoys, executive director of the foundation, explained that the award ceremony was a culmination of a year’s worth of work to recognize exceptional teachers in the city’s charter system.
“I had concerns that our educators were not recognized in Lee County in the Golden Apple award process,” he said. “I felt that we needed that kind of recognition to thank the educators that work so hard for us all year long.”
Colpoys explained that the Lighthouse Award came to fruition because Cape Coral is a waterfront community and because the lighthouse is a beacon of protection.
Organizers and members of the foundation are now looking forward to subsequent years of the award program where they can expand on this inaugural year.
Donna Artrip from Christa McAuliffe Elementary, Jaime Rothring from Oasis Elementary, Amy Picciolo from Oasis Middle and David Christopher from Oasis High received the first-ever Lighthouse Awards.
“I know like most of the people here, this is truly an honor. When you go to a school you look forward to going to every day, it is an honor and amazing,” said Christopher.
Eight other educators were also given the Distinguished Educator Award Thursday including Theresa Beurle, Joy Bonnaig and Susan Coward from Christa McAuliffe; Rhonda Gamboa and Barbara Hess from Oasis Elementary; John Omundsen and Evelyn Williams from Oasis Middle; and Rae Vanderheyden from Oasis High.
Teachers in the charter system who earned national board certification were also recognized. They included Joy Bonnaig, David Christopher, Stephanie Fabela, April Wolfe and Jackie Collins.
Selections for the Lighthouse Awards are modeled after the Golden Apple Recognition Program, administered by the Foundation for Lee County Public Schools.
Teachers in the charter system were nominated by a fellow teacher, parent or student and submitted an application. They were later observed by an official from the city and had to go through an interview.
The city charter system is in its fourth year, still in its infancy stage compared to the Lee County School District. It consists of a tightly knit community of educators and service personnel who work together to keep the schools running.
While many school districts across the state are eliminating positions and closing schools, the charter system is hiring new teachers and opening a new high school in 2010.
Academically, students in the system are outperforming others across Lee County. Third-graders at Oasis Elementary School recently scored over the 90th percentile in reading and mathematics, according to FCAT scores from the Florida Department of Education.
City officials, who also attended the awards ceremony Thursday, commended the charter system.
“We now have the Lighthouse Awards and that is a defining moment for a school system,” said Mayor Jim Burch. “For me, personally, this is a tremendous time to be involved.”
Dr. Wilson Bradshaw, president of Florida Gulf Coast University, was the guest speaker.
“I am very familiar with charter schools, and what you have done in three or four years is unmatched,” he said. “I’ve seen over the last 10 years change happening in education and that has been led by charter schools.”
Will Stout, developer of Cape Harbour, donated the pavilion for the award ceremony.
“It is a lifetime of work for everybody in this room. There were a few rocky roads, but this baby has taken off and is a bona fide success,” he said.
Scott Bologna, president of the foundation, said he was pleased with Thursday’s turnout and later added that it was an honor to see the charter teachers in action.
“Visiting the four Lighthouse recipients last week was one of the most awarding things I’ve ever done,” Bologna said.