Syndie White, a third-grade teacher at Elbridge Gale Elementary School, was invited this week to participate in a video conference with the school’s principal, Gail Pasterczyk, Superintendent Dr. Donald E. Fennoy II and the Florida Department of Education.
White had been given the impression that a discussion about distance learning would occur, but little did she know that the call would result in an amazing celebration of her teaching skills.
White soon learned that the real reason for the call was to allow the state to surprise her with the news that she is a finalist for Florida’s 2021 Teacher of the Year! White sobbed with joy upon learning the true reason that her attendance had been requested. District 6 School Board Member Marcia Andrews was also on the call to celebrate the announcement.
“She is the [state] winner in my book and the district’s book,” Fennoy said. “Syndie is remarkable. She is a genuine human being who loves her children and loves teaching.”
White has been a teacher in the district for eight years, five of those as a math, science and social studies teacher at Elbridge Gale. She is always looking for new ways to engage her students in their lessons.
She is a coach for the school’s Lego Robotics Team, implemented Minecraft for Education and established a Makerspace for her students. She also encourages girls to take on leadership roles, as well as promoting an interest in STEM education.
“When I came to [Elbridge Gale], I was a baby, but my principal and my assistant principal 0built me up and encouraged me. Because of that, I can encourage my kids,” White said.
“She is truly amazing. Not only is she a phenomenal classroom teacher who infuses technology at the highest level, she teaches her students courage, and gives them the confidence to be successful,” Pasterczyk said. “Her heart is one of the biggest I have ever seen.”
This isn’t the first time that Fennoy has surprised White. On March 5, he dropped in on White’s classroom to announce her selection as the district’s Teacher of the Year.
White and School-Related Employee of the Year Ivey Colligan were honored in a virtual celebration in mid-May. Colligan was also selected as a state finalist for Florida School-Related Employee of the Year.
“I just want to acknowledge that Palm Beach County has so many outstanding, amazing educators,” White said. “So, as I sit here, I am honored, but I feel guilty because everyone deserves this recognition.”
The winner of Florida Teacher of the Year will be announced by the Florida Department of Education later this summer.