Master of Ceremonies Lance Ramer of Clewiston started the program off with a warm welcome to everyone. He thanked all the different “behind the scenes” people who planned and put together the Golden Apple Teacher Recognition Dinner which was catered by Cassie Williams of Cracker Cookin and Caterin.
After the Pledge of Allegiance, Rev. Dwayne E. Brown, of the Hendry County School Board gave the invocation. Then it was on to introduce Paul Puletti, Superintendent of Hendry County Schools, and other attending dignitaries before introducing the sponsors.
The mission of The Foundation for Hendry County Public Schools is to enhance the quality of education in Hendry County by increasing community involvement in, and support for, Hendry County Public Schools. The following are local patrons and companies that are involved with The Foundation, and its effort to accomplish this mission. They are: Suncoast Credit Union Foundation, U.S.Sugar Corporation, Center State Bank, Glades Electric Cooperative, Lifetouch Portraits, MCM Paints, Caloosahatchee Management, LLC, Robert Egley, Danny and Amanda Nelson, Nisbet Enterprises, Inc. DBA McDonald’s, Gordy and Candy Swaggerty, Tom and Joyce Conner, Scott and Susan Cooper, Family Eye Care, Gulf Citrus Growers Association, Inc., Heartland Data Systems, James and Angela Sealey, and Hendry Regional Medical Center.
Brilliant Orange Awards was recognized by Ron Hamel of Gulf Citrus Growers Association. This year there were four teachers who received the Brilliant Orange Award. They were: First grade teacher Amanda Fostell of Eastside Elementary School in Clewiston, Fourth grade teacher Lizette Rodriguez of Upthegrove Elementary in LaBelle, Eighth grade teacher Samuel Thomas of Clewiston Middle School, and LaBelle High School Music Director Philip Eyrich.
Superintendent Paul Puletti presented the Heritage Award to a surprised Robert and Isabel Belton of Clewiston. He stated that between the two of them they have been involved in the education of children for 109 years; Mrs. Belton teaching for 53 years and Mr. Belton for 56 years. Mrs. Belton taught home economics, and Mr. Belton taught drivers education. He stated that Mr. Belton retired in 1992, then returned to work in 1994. This past fall, at the age of 85, Mr. Belton decided it was time for him to retire again. Mrs. Belton stated that they were invited to the dinner, but weren’t told about the award so it was a wonderful surprise! MC Lance Ramer stated to Mr. Belton what most people were thinking. He said, “I thank you for teaching my (3) children to drive, and my insurance company thanks you too!”
Each of the ten public schools were represented by a Golden Apple recipient. The principal of each school introduced a student who gave everyone a little glimpse of how they felt about their particular teacher. The students stated that besides their school work, these teachers taught them other things such as honesty, integrity, character, and dedication. These teachers inspire students to do better in school, and in their everyday life. Some told memories of things that happened, and each spoke of the love that the teacher showed to them and the other kids.
Clewiston Middle School’s Principal Lori Duckstein introduced student Te’Azjah Ticklin who spoke about recipient Adriana Alston. Ms. Alston teaches 6th grade math and science. She spent 15 years teaching at Eastside Elementary, and has only been at CMS for a year.
LaBelle High School’s Principal David Kelley introduced student Emma Bridwell who spoke about recipient Alexandria Kelle Collins. Ms. Collins teaches language arts, social sciences, electives and French. She has been teaching for 14-1/2 years, and has taught at Country Oaks Elementary, LaBelle Middle School, Fort Lauderdale High School, and is now at LaBelle High School.
LaBelle Middle School’s Principal Kenneth Pickles introduced student Maria Coto who spoke about recipient Ashley Corbitt. Ms. Corbitt teaches 7th grade. She has been teaching 11 years, and has taught at the Supplemental Education Center in Texas, After School Program in Hialeah, Credit Recovery High School in Fort Lauderdale, and Florida Virtual School before coming to LaBelle Middle School.
Central Elementary School’s Principal Melissa Carter introduced student Nicholas Narito who spoke about recipient Monica Crawford. Ms. Crawford teaches kindergarten. She has been teaching 12-1/2 years, and only at Central Elementary School.
Westside Elementary School’s Principal Anthony Busin introduced student Crista Davis who spoke about recipient Patricia Lynn Cutshaw. Ms. Cutshaw teaches 4th grade. She has been teaching for 17 years, and only at Westside Elementary School.
LaBelle Elementary School’s Principal Sandra Taylor introduced student Madison Pratt who spoke about recipient Lynn Davidson. Ms. Davidson teaches 3rd grade. She has been teaching for 36 years, and has taught at LaBelle Middle School and LaBelle Elementary School.
Eastside Elementary School’s Principal Kristi Durance introduced student Luke Llossas who spoke about recipient Maggie Pennington. Ms. Pennington teaches 4th grade. She has been teaching for 6 years, and only at Eastside Elementary School.
Clewiston High School’s Principal Roberto Sanchez introduced student Leonarto Leiva who spoke about recipient Ryan Petersmark. Mr. Petersmark teaches visual arts. He has been teaching for 3 years, and only at Clewiston High School.
Country Oaks Elementary School’s Principal Robin Jones introduced student Kyleigh Stitt who spoke about recipient Kimberly Stitt. Ms. Stitt teaches kindergarten. She has been teaching for 21 years, and has taught at Central Elementary, Moore Haven Elementary, and Moore Haven High School before coming to Country Oaks.
Upthegrove Elementary School’s Assistant Principal Karra Rivas, who stood in for Principal Larry Luckey, introduced student Aracely Villa who spoke about recipient Lori Whited. (Principal Luckey had to leave early to perform in the play “Your a Good Man, Charlie Brown” being held at the Firehouse Community Theater.) Ms. Whited teaches 5th grade. She has been teaching for 5 years, and only at Upthegrove Elementary.
Out of all these deserving teachers, Adriana Alston of Clewiston Middle School was chosen Hendry County’s Teacher of the Year.