BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - This week's Golden Apple winner is now a teacher at the same elementary school she once attended as a young student.
Teaching wasn't Stefanie Hendley's first career, but she always knew her destiny was in the classroom.
"I always knew I wanted to be a teacher" said Hendley. "It's actually something I went back to later in life and went to school for. When I was in elementary school and we would get to go help the younger kids, I knew I wanted to be a teacher."
Born and raised in Panama City, Hendley spent a few of her elementary school years here at Oakland Terrace Elementary School.
"It's crazy really to come back and see that you were once just like they were, walking the halls and just that little and excited to be here. So it's fun to be able to see that and have it come full circle," she said.
Hendley teaches second grade, a year she says is crucial to academic success.
"Second grade is kind of a bridge," explained Hendley. "It takes the skills that they learn in first grade and is able to really build upon them and really get them ready for the older grades."
Her students say they feel lucky to have her as a teacher.
"She's very nice" said one of her students, Bella. "She teaches us math and reading."
"She's nice and she's a good teacher," said another student, Amiri. "She helps us learn math and if we get something wrong she helps us go over it."
"The kids, they come to school with a smile on their face every day," said Hendley. "They want to be here. They're excited to learn and we are pushing them harder this year than we ever have. No matter how hard it is they are still excited to be here every day."
Congratulations, Stefanie Hendley!
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