Monday, November 29, 2021

Who is teaching our children?

Ed Laudise going over some notes with fellow staffers (from left) Paulette Defazio, Nancy Gutierrez, Caitlin Smith, Diana Little (in red blouse) and Melinda Chesser. Photo by Val Simon

Ed Laudise going over some notes with fellow staffers (from left) Paulette Defazio, Nancy Gutierrez, Caitlin Smith, Diana Little (in red blouse) and Melinda Chesser. Photo by Val Simon

In this day and age we rely more on our schools and their faculty to teach our children than ever before. Parents take their children’s school hours very seriously and we cannot deny teachers see our children for approximately 35 hours per week. For many children, those hours are their most attentive and productive during the week. Fortunately, Marco Island offers two fine educational facilities: Tommie Barfield Elementary (TBE) and Marco Island Charter Middle School.  Both schools have been recognized by the state of Florida as ‘A’ rated schools for several years running. Simply put, it means they are exceptional educational institutions achieving the state mandated criteria for Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) scores under the No Child Left Behind legislation.

So, who are the teachers in whom we entrust the care and education of our children? Even seasoned parents with children in the system for many years aren’t familiar with each of them. So, Coastal Breeze News will feature a few teachers from area schools in each edition. With cooperation from TBE Principal, Dr. Jory Westberry, we will start off with the newest additions to TBE faculty:

Caitlin Smith-Third Grade Teacher

Caitlin attended Valencia Community College before receiving her BA in Elementary Education at Florida Gulf Coast University.  Prior to coming to TBE she did internships with Parkside Elementary and Lely Elementary.  She is a first generation college graduate. She has two older brothers and a younger sister besides her parents. Hobbies include tennis, fishing, drawing and making jewelry.

Paulette DefazioThird Grade Teacher

Paulette has a BS in Business from Bryant University and attended Colorado University in Boulder to complete the requirements to earn her teaching certification.  She taught school in Estes Park, Colorado for six years: three as a Computer Science teacher, the other three as a Fifth Grade teacher.

Paulette served five years in the army as an Intelligence Officer. She loves adventurous travel, exercising and cooking. She has one daughter in her second year at California Polytechnic University studying enology and viticulture.

Melinda ChesserFourth Grade Teacher

Melinda attended Dalton State College in Georgia and has a BS in early Childhood Education.  This is her first year teaching.  When she isn’t busy teaching the children TBE, she is busy raising her own five year old son.  She loves swimming, hiking and plays a variety of sports. One of the most unique things about Melinda is she loves to go caving!

Ed LaudineFifth Grade Teacher

Ed attended St. Michael’s College in Vermont where he earned a BA in History and a BA in Education.  He moved to Florida where he received a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Barry University.  Although this is Ed’s first year teaching he has over 20 years working with children. His hobbies include bicycle riding, swimming, running and exercising.

Norma Smith Exceptional Student Education (ESE) Program Specialist

Norma has a BS and MS from Oklahoma State University. She has a total of 32 years experience in education.  She has been a kindergarten teacher, Instructional Resources Specialist and an ESE teacher for 27 years. She has two grown daughters with professional careers as well as two grandsons.

Nancy GutierrezPhysical Education Instructor

Nancy is a Physical Education graduate of the University of Central Florida. She was a paraprofessionalin physical education 2009-2010 and held internships in elementary levels.  She loves outdoor activities, trying new foods and salsa dancing.  She has a one year old Chihuahua named Cookie.

Diana LittleAssistant Principal

Diana has a BA in Elementary Education from Wright State University and a Master’s Degree from the University of Dayton in Education Administration. For 17 years she taught second, third and fourth grades and was a math coach for one year. Diana is married with one son and two daughters.  She’s an avid Buckeyes fan.  Besides being dancer in the ‘Nutcracker’, she was also on the Drill Team and was a Drill Team Advisor.

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