PANAMA CITY- This week's Golden Apple winner is the band director at Bay High School. Mr.Efstathiou was nominated by a parent, Tracey Sirmans, who writes: "Mr. E." is not only an expert in music, he is an educator, a pillar of the community, a positive role model for students and colleagues, an inspiration to those who lack confidence, a believer in all students, a drill sergeant when necessary, a smile when you need one. Way to go "Mr. E" you truly deserve the Golden Apple teacher award."
Bay High's "Million Dollar Band" has grown from just a couple dozen kids a few years ago to a robust 180 member program, due in large part to the efforts of this man, Nick Efstathiou. "I can feel it, you know it's going to get bigger next year. It's just going to keep on growing." He is affectionately known as Mr.E. "Number one he cares about his kids," said Bay High Principal Billy May. "He knows them by name. He knows their likes and dislikes, he knows their families, he just builds a relationship with everybody in that band, and it's because he does that the rest of the band follows suit. And it's just one big happy family," said Mr. May.
"From the pit players to the center snare drum, you just feel like you are brothers and sisters. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else," said Christina Patronis, a member of the drum line. It's that dynamic that is drawing students from all over Bay County. "You accept everybody for who they are, not what they can do," said Mr. E. "It doesn't matter how well you play, just as long as you play the best way you possibly can." "He takes kids who have never touched an instrument before and welcomes them into the band and teaches them. He does a great job," said Mr. May.
Mr.E makes students feel a part of something bigger than themselves. "He makes us feel like we are needed in the band. He's not just like "I need a few people," said student Taylor Dick. "Mr. E is really cool, he is a really caring guy. He cares about the drum line, he cares about everyone on the drum line, he makes us feel like we are part of something and not just there to play. He is awesome at what he does," said Trey Sirmans, another drum line musician.
"Truthfully not every student who is going to go through here is going to be a professional musician. They are going to do something, doctors, lawyers, athletes, book writers, teachers, and we've got to treach them to be the very best they can be in whatever God gifts them. And if we are doing than we are doing our job," said Mr. E.
Congratulations to Mr. Efstathiou, this week's Golden Apple award winning teacher.