The school community in Immokalee has been abuzz with excitement the past few weeks. On Friday, February 7, Superintendent Dr. Kamela Patton joined the surprise patrol to present awards to the year’s Employees of the Year. One of the stops—Village Oaks Elementary (VOE) where general secretary Petra Adame has been an employee for 31 years! To Adame’s surprise, Dr. Patton presented her with the 2020 School-Related Employee of the Year award!
According to principal Bev Budzynski, Adame endlessly strives to build relationships with every stakeholder who walks through the doors of the school. “She is a friendly, wise, and impartial ambassador of VOE and an advocate for all,” adds Budzynski. “She demonstrates unwavering support of her VOE family through always seeking personal and professional growth and encouraging progress and improvement in others. Every school should have someone like Petra Adame on staff. Her effect on student confidence is amazing!”
A few days later, just down the road, a surprise patrol from Champions For Learning (CFL) was getting ready to make the day of another special CCPS employee—Immokalee High School (IHS) teacher David Stehlin! Stehlin was presented an esteemed Golden Apple from representatives of CFL, our local education foundation. Six Golden Apples are distributed each year and recognize teachers for their best practices in education.
“As a history teacher, my focus is to help students understand that in order to fully appreciate the complexity of people interacting with other people in the past, we need to understand that those ‘heroes’ in our books were simply people—‘real’ people who had the same motivations, passions, and emotional reactions that we do,” shares Stehlin. “If we’re able to understand WHY people acted in the past, we can begin to have a better appreciation for those around us.”
For Stehlin, his Golden Apple confirms that he, as an educator, is on the right track—that he’s making a positive impact. And as a teacher at IHS, he feels the honor is a statement about the Immokalee community and how great it is.
“Mr. Stehlin is one those instructional staff that you wish you could duplicate,” shares IHS principal Clara Calderon. “He builds strong relationships with students while engaging them to think critically on past events and relate them to current topics.”
“My favorite part of teaching is creating new relationships with new students every year,” adds Stehlin. “Once these relationships are established, you have students that are willing to work for you and to work for themselves because they see the value in education.” Another favorite for Stehlin is getting to share with students the importance of being informed in a democratic society. “This is an essential part of being a person who is able to operate and make positive change in our communities today.”
Congratulations to both Petra and David on their recent accomplishments!