The Apple Blossom Awards, hosted by Collier Child Care Resources, honored three early childhood educators with a “Teacher of The Year” award for their excellence in educating and caring for children ages birth to five-years-old. Recipients were honored at the annual Awards Luncheon held on April 13th, 2019, at the Hilton Naples. Twenty Collier County early childhood teachers were nominated this year by supervisors, parents or colleagues. Each nominee was observed in the classroom by two different Apple Blossom committee members. There were eleven points of evaluation that included criteria such as, “develops a reciprocal relationship with each child”, “sees strengths in each child” and “relates effectively to diversity”.
Sydney Nelson, Calusa Park Elementary
“Sydney’s ability to learn and implement new techniques for the benefit of her children shines brightly! When all Pre-K Disabilities were initially trained in Conscious Discipline, Sydney embraced this methodology and has caused a transformation in her classroom. She has even volunteered to be a part of the group who studies this methodology further.”
Naomi Handapangoda, Little Wonders, A CCCR Early Childhood Development Center
“Naomi brings great knowledge to her two-year-old classroom with a CDA, and she is still in school to complete her Bachelors in Education. She truly shows a passion for teaching young children, and she has great love for each and every one of her children.”
Jenny Theodore, Fun Time Learning Academy
“Jenny does an excellent job at using assessments throughout the year to guide her lesson plans and individualize instruction for the children in her classroom. She is respectful of the different needs of each child and fosters an environment that is conducive to learning. Jenny develops relationships with parents that are built on respect and consideration.”
Lavern Norris Gaynor
Lavern Norris Gaynor received the Myra Shapiro Early Childhood Leadership Award for decades of philanthropy directed toward local children. Lavern has aided education and children’s causes for decades. She established a college scholarship of Youth Haven, an emergency and residential shelter for boys and girls ages six to eighteen who have been removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect or abandonment. She has maintained her support of Youth Haven for over thirty years. Lavern assisted Hodges University when it was still holding classes in an old shopping center. In 2006, she endowed the President’s Chair of Hodges University. Lavern is also a trustee of Northwestern University, from which she graduated in 1945.
Congratulations to the 2019 Apple Blossom Nominees!
- Monique Atkinson, Precious Cargo Academy
- Eliza Cardoze, Peace Early Learning Academy
- Priscilla Cisneros, The Learning Spot
- Gladimar de Jesus, A Step Up, A CCCR Early Childhood Development Center at Golden Gate High School
- Linda DeLara, Pathways Early Education Center
- Lydia Dillinger, Little Wonders, A CCCR Early Childhood Development Center
- Daisy Duran, Village Oaks Elementary
- Maria Engracio, A CCCR Early Childhood Development Center at Golden Gate High School
- Marta Fabian, Island Montessori Academy
- Noelia Galvan, Pathways Early Education Center
- Nallely Gomez, Guadalupe Center
- Jennifer Howell, A CCCR Early Childhood Development Center at Golden Gate High School
- Kelsi Matson, Grace Place for Children & Families
- Cheri Murace, Livingston Academy
- Mary Lee Rodriguez, Guadalupe Center
- Brittani Rookstool, Precious Cargo Academy
- Jenna Sartorio, Calusa Park Elementary
Link to ALL Photos from the 2019 Awards Luncheon
“We must strive to understand the impact that early childhood educators make in a child’s most formative years.
Teachers are often unrecognized and underpaid. CCCR is proud to host the Apple Blossom Awards as a way to honor our children’s real heroes.”
–Niccole Howard, CCCR Executive Director/CEO