For many starting out a Thursday at work, about 9:15 a.m., only to have your boss, three camera crews and the print media, as well as many co-workers, barge into your office might throw you off your game.
But after a few tears of joy, Palm Beach County Teacher of the Year Syndie White maintained control of her emotions — and her class.
Palm Beach County School District Superintendent Dr. Donald Fennoy brought the news to White in her classroom at Elbridge Gale Elementary School in Wellington on Thursday, March 5, presenting her with a bouquet of flowers in front of her well-behaved class, which seemed a little in awe of the spectacle.
White, a third-grade math and science teacher at Elbridge Gale, has been teaching for eight years and has already earned an Elementary Math Teacher of the Year Award and an Educator/Collaborator Award. She has been teaching as a national STEM-certified teacher at Elbridge Gale for the past five years. In the first four years of her tenure, she taught math to fifth graders before moving on to her current assignment teaching third graders.
The first thoughts White spoke were of her father.
“He mowed lawns for 30 years so I could be here,” she said. “He wanted something better for me.”
Speaking to the Town-Crier later in the day, White detailed her background.
“My father came from Haiti, and I was the third child born in the U.S. My mother passed away when I was in first grade,” she recalled.
Today, White has a son who is three and a six-year-old daughter, who attends Elbridge Gale. Her husband is an electrical engineer with Comcast.
She is proud to have started and still leads the school’s engineering club. The first thing on her list that White said she enjoys most about teaching is, “The relationships you build. Parents are entrusting their child’s happiness and growth to you.”
Students Eliana, Gabriel and Nalani said as a group, “She works so hard for us… she goes out of her way for us… she pushes us so hard, and we learn. We love her.”
The award ambush included District 6 School Board Member Marcia Andrews. “I know her,” Andrews said. “She is an outstanding teacher and an outstanding person. Just a star teacher.”
Also attending was Elbridge Gale Principal Gail Pasterczyk, who shared the best part about successfully keeping a secret — letting people know afterward that you knew all along. “It was the hardest secret to keep,” she said. “I’ve known for a month.”