40 teacher nominees for Lighthouse Award
Nominations for the third annual Lighthouse Award Program for the Municipal Charter School Foundation for outstanding educators ended Friday with 40 nominations, most of which came from parents and students.
Executive Director Kevin Colpys said after he became involved in the foundation he quickly realized that their teachers were not eligible to participate in the Golden Apple process because they are employed by the city of Cape Coral instead of with the Lee County School District.
“I was a little taken back by that,” he said.
Colpys said because the Golden Apple Award is a franchise deal and you have to pay a franchise fee to participate, he wanted to create a “beacon for educational excellence” award that would follow the same process as the Golden Apple Award for the Municipal Charter School Foundation.
The inception of the Lighthouse Award began and was awarded to four educators, one at each school, Christa McAuliffe Elementary, Oasis Elementary, Oasis Middle and Oasis High School in 2009.
Jaime Rothring, a third grade teacher at Oasis Middle School, was one of four teachers to be awarded the first year. She began her teaching career five years ago at Oasis Middle School.
“I was very honored to win the Lighthouse Award,” she said. “It was the first year the award was given, and I was shocked when I found out I won. It made me feel appreciated for all of the hard work that goes into being a teacher.”
An announcement of the program was sent home with every child, along with faculty and staff, to provide them with information about the award and how they could nominate an educator. This year they added the option of filling out the nomination form online, which Colpoys said was a huge success. He said about 80 percent of the nominations were filled out online this year.
“That’s working pretty nice,” Colpoys said.
On March 30 a letter will be sent out to those who were nominated. Colpoys said the educators then will have a week to complete the application, which can be filled out online.
A selection committee of three will review the applications and rank them. The committee will then select four or five educators at each school who are the highest ranked and observe them in the classroom for 45-minutes to an hour. A half hour conference with the nominee then will be conducted by the committee.Nine-year veteran and 2010 winner of the Lighthouse Award Susi Kelly is a fifth grade teacher at Christa McAuliffe Elementary School.
“Winning the Lighthouse Award was quite an honor,” Kelly said. “I work hard to help my students attain their personal best … receiving the Lighthouse Award let me know that my efforts are appreciated.”
Social studies teacher Peter Ndiang’ui joined the staff at Oasis High School in 2009 and he also was named a Lighthouse Award winner in 2010. His teaching career began three decades ago in Kenya where he taught until he moved to the United States in 1997. Before becoming a teacher at Oasis High, he taught at Atlanta International School and Canterbury.
“Winning the Lighthouse Award last year was a big surprise for me,” he said. “When the foundation members came to my classroom to announce that I had won the award, I was speechless. It was a great honor to me.”
Ndiang’ui said he was deeply humbled and honored to see so many of his current and former students attend the ceremony where he was recognized.
“Since the employees of the charter schools do not take part in the Golden Apple Awards program of the other public schools, the Lighthouse Award Program is a welcome gesture of honoring the many deserving educators in our schools,” he said. “Although the primary reason for the work we do is not to get an award, it is always nice to see that somebody recognizes and appreciates it.”
The winners of the Lighthouse Award will receive a surprise visit in their classroom on May 16. The award, a crystal lighthouse, will be presented to four teachers on May 20 in the Pavillon at Cape Harbour. Two educators of distinction for each school will also receive recognition and a plaque during the ceremony.