Springfield - This week's Golden Apple award winner has been teaching Exceptional Student Education for nearly four decades, this year will be her last. Shirley Strickland was a front-runner in ESE not only in Bay County, but in the state of Florida. In many ways, she charted the course for younger teachers to follow in her footsteps, and she set the bar high.
"I remember the first year that I taught, I thought even if they did not pay me for this job I would take it anyway because I love it so much," said Shirley Strickland. Mrs. Strickland has given her life to a special segment of children often left on the sidelines. For 38 years she has worked with children with a range of challenges, those with visual, hearing or physical impairments. "Our aim in this classroom is to get the children out into the regular classroom as fast as we can so we work very hard at that," said Strickland.
She starts all her students with a clean slate. "We want them to be able to do everything that they are capable of doing and my job is to make sure that i try everything under the sun to help them reach their potential. My motto has always been, don't say you can't say I'll try."
It's this phrase "Getting better all the time" that she instills in all her students. "Mrs. Strickland has been a good teacher to me, said student Jennifer Powers. She officially retired last year, but came back when she felt her work simply wasn't done. She came to me and said "I just cannot give it up Mrs. Taylor and so I hired her on for another year because she has been working with this group of children so she wanted to finish with them," said Springfield Elementary principal Harriet Taylor.
Congratulations to Shirley Strickland, this week's Golden Apple award winning teacher. And congratulations on a fantastic career! "The person who takes my place I just pray that they will love it as much as I do," said Strickland.
This is the last Golden Apple for this school year. We've received such a great response from our viewers that we plan to continue the series next fall.