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Trafalgar Elementary’s Vetter nominated for achievement award

By Staff | Sep 1, 2010

Trafalgar Elementary School Principal Marie Vetter was chosen as the Lee County School District nominee for the 2010 Principal Achievement Award for Outstanding Leadership at the board’s meeting Tuesday night.
“I am excited and happy to be selected,” Vetter said.
She said the award means that she is being recognized for her leadership. It also recognizes Trafalgar Elementary for being a model school for behavior support, a five-star school for parent community involvement and a Kagan Model School, Vetter added.
The award was established in1988 as a way to recognize principals across Florida for their outstanding leadership. Nominations can either be made by an employee at the principal’s school or anyone who believes a principal should be honored.
Vetter said one of her teachers nominated her for the award.
Special Education Teacher Nora Kohler nominated Vetter last spring after she received a memo from the school district about the award. She said she began working with Vetter three years ago.
“I had to write a couple of paragraphs to nominate her,” she said.
“I love her manner with the students and with the teachers,” Kohler said of Vetter. “I think she is one in a million.”
Kohler said she also enjoys working for Vetter because she “motivates each of us to do our best.”
She said Vetter is a fair principal who is willing to pitch in when it is needed, along with having a presence on the campus.
“She is on campus every day,” Kohler said, adding, “we see her in our classrooms every day.”
This quality stands out to Kohler because she has never experienced a hands-on principal in all the 32 years she has been teaching.
“It’s a pleasure for me to work under her,” she said.
Education began to cross Vetter’s mind as a career path at the age of 7, when she began to pretend she was a teacher for her friends. She said her excitement for education continued to grow after she started going to work with her father, who was a teacher at a public school. When she found out that her father’s principal was a female, she knew she would eventually wind up as a principal.
She began working for the Lee County Public School District in 1978 and has been a principal since 1995.
Her first job in the district began at Caloosa Elementary School as a teacher in 1978. She later became a curriculum specialist before becoming an administrator.
Vetter said she opened Trafalgar Elementary School in 2003 as the principal.
She said opening the elementary school was “absolutely fantastic” because she had the opportunity to hand pick the positive teachers she wanted to join her team, along with mapping out a specific direction she wanted the school to take.
“I had a lot of input on the design of the school and selection of the staff,” Vetter said.
Since the school opened, she said the student enrollment has “remained pretty stable give or take 30 to 40 students.” This year, she said, Trafalgar Elementary School has 840 students enrolled.
Since Vetter opened the school in 2003, it has been an “A” school.
Vetter said she is very proud that her school is also a Kagan Model School. The facility has six coaches that provide modeling for teachers to help them stay at the top of their game.
The model provides 220 structures for the teachers to follow for activities that can work with any kind of content. She said the model is all about engaging the students.
When the structures are done correctly, it improves the students social skills, student learning and it equalizes participation, Vetter said.
The recipients of the Principal Achievement Award for Outstanding Leadership demonstrates that they are visionaries and dreams have turned into successes for the faculty, students and the community at large.
The school district was eligible to nominate one principal for the award this year.
“I love coming to work every day,” Vetter said. “There is no place I would rather be than Trafalgar Elementary.”
She said she loves her job because of the children and the relationships she forms with individuals.