Of the more than the 1,000 substitute teachers in Lee County, only four are chosen each year to receive TOP Substitutes of the Year wards, and two are from Cape Coral.
Four in their divisions will be honored twice - first by the Lee County School Board nexT Tuesday, June 19, and later by the Lee County Association of Professional Substitute Teachers organization. The Association will present them with a Silver Apple, their version of the Golden Apple award, in August.
Cape resident Kathleen Taylor was chosen as the top Elementary Division substitute and the Cape's Irene Parker was top for the High School Division.
Irene Parker and daughter Savanna of Cape Coral. Parker was chosen as High School Division Substitute of the Year.
Also being honored are Sheridan Chester for Middle School and Ebenezer Akinola for the Special Centers Division.
"In order to be a substitute you have to be a rare individual," said Association president Marvin A. Goetz. "The reason for that is because you have to, first, love all children, and second of all, you are seldom recognized for all your efforts."
He said research shows that the average child K-12 will spend one year under the tutelage of substitute teachers.
"Substitutes are ready, able and capable to serve their communities and the children of the communities when called upon."
He provided other statistics.
"We have 1,024 substitutes in the Lee County School System. Out of the 1,024, some have have bachelors degrees, some masters degrees, PhDs and special degrees. The professional make up of the substitute is why we call our organization a professional organization, and because we raised the bar."
Goetz is a substitute teacher.
"I still substitute," he said. "I am a 50-year retiree."
The school board will hand out the awards to these individuals on June 19. On Aug. 3, the substitute teacher organization will have their new school year substitute orientation program at Estero High School. That is when the four will get their Silver Apples.
Top teacher profiles:
High School Substitute of the Year Irene Parker calls Ida Baker High School home.
The Cape resident has lived here for more than 20 years; she's originally from upstate New York. She graduated from St. Thomas University in Miami, and has a bachelors degree in biology.
"I stayed at home with my daughter until she went to school, then started subbing. We both went to school."
She said it is sometimes hard to get into just one school, but she had an ally.
"There was a lovely secretary there, Mrs. Hinkle, at Ida Baker. She was secretary to the principal, and she kept me coming back, calling and calling me, which was truly, truly nice. Then I really got to know the kids."
How does she feel she got the honor?
"I love the kids there," Parker said. "The hardest part of my job is letting them go after four years, the reason is the kids, I know."
She said Ida Baker is an incredible school and it is the kids that make the school.
One thing she is proud of is the girl's soccer team.
"These little 100 pound girls were state champions; it's amazing. They're smart, too. Just nice girls," Parker said.
She also really enjoys the full-time teachers there.
"They make it easy for me, are helpful, and that keeps me going."
In her spare time, she said, "I'm a full-time mom with a 10-year-old daughter. We play."
She said being a substitute teacher is "not for the meek. I'm just so lucky to be at one school, especially this school."
Kathleen Taylor of Cape Coral was chosen as Substitute of the Year for the Elementary Division.
Her base school is Cape Elementary.
"I love it. I have just finished up 15 years there. Both of my children went there, and I started there volunteering. After a couple of years I started subbing, and I still volunteer," Taylor said.
Of the elementary age, she said, "They are just so cute and sweet. They are fun and funny."
When asked her secret to success in getting the top honor, she said, "I have no idea. There are a whole lot of wonderful subs in this county, and I'm thrilled to be chosen."
At the school, she said she gets tremendous support. "They are literally my second family. They have helped me through so many things and so many times in the last 15 years. They have always been there for me, wether it was professional, or, without a doubt, personal."
Her principals have been exceptional supportive.
"We have been so fortunate at Cape Elementary to only have the three different principals since I've been there. We have had such wonderful principals and assistant principals," Taylor said.
The current principal is Shanna Flecha. "They've always interacted with everybody at the school."
In her spare time she likes read and relax, she said, "and play with my granddaughter."