Golden Apple award winning teacher found calling "late in life"

By: Meredith TerHaar Email
By: Meredith TerHaar Email

Panama City - This week's Golden Apple award-winning teacher is teaches 2nd grade at Oakland Terrace Elementary in Panama City. Mrs. Deborah Carey-Burkett says she discovered teaching was her calling after working for years as the director of a domestic violence program. It was while she was teaching probation classes years ago that her students told her she had a gift.

"This is my niche. Sometimes I think wow, I found my niche late in life but some people spend their entire life and never find something they enjoy and I love teaching," said Carey-Burkett.

"With Debbie it's all about creating relationships with her children, with teachers here at school, with our parents," said Principal Teresa Holzman. Holzman says Carey-Burkett specializes in working with students one on one. "She knows her children very well and knows what they are capable of, what skills are lacking and communicates that very will with her parents." A weekly progress report goes home so parents are always in the loop. "I just think it's important to care and the commitment has to be there. You have to keep the parents involved," said Carey-Burkett.

Mrs. Carey-Burkett says she loves working with second graders, for lots of reasons. "They are just full of energy. They are inquiring, they want to know, they are very thoughtful, very inquisitive and really enjoy learning." She emphasizes perseverance in her classroom and encourages her students to have determination. "We know ok we stumble and fall sometimes but we pick ourselves back up and we continue on."

"When I need help she helps us," said student D'shawn Stewart. "I love my teacher and I think she is a beautiful teacher," said student Cherice White. Congratulations to Mrs.Carey-Burkett, this week's Golden Apple award-winning teacher. "It's what I do and I love it."

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