Tuesday, January 26, 2021

New TBE Principal Can’t Wait for School to Start


TBE secretaries, Nerina Martinez (left) and Monica Novotny (right) collaborate with new Principal, Katie Maya, about the start of school Submitted Photos

TBE secretaries, Nerina Martinez (left) and Monica Novotny (right) collaborate with new Principal, Katie Maya, about the start of school Submitted Photos

Trying to track down a new principal who’s hiring new staff members, attending a gazillion meetings, scheduling classes and events, and learning the ropes is a challenge, but Katie Maya is already demonstrating that “she has what it takes” to start the school year with a positive, loving environment for all. Here are some questions I asked her and her responses about her upcoming first year as the Tommie Barfield Elementary (TBE) leader.

1. How does it feel to be starting your first year as Principal at TBE?

I am just thrilled! Tommie Barfield has been home for me as the Assistant Principal for the past six years. The opportunity for me to continue to support the students, families and community of Marco Island is truly an honor.

2. What are your hopes and dreams for your students and staff?

This is a staff of true professionals. They take a lot of pride in what they do and are continually challenging themselves to learn new things for the benefit of their students. We will continue to foster a love for learning and provide opportunities for staff to deepen their understanding of effective instructional strategies. We will continue our focus of engaging students in STEAM education and technology integration.

There is a strong positive culture already established at TBE. Students and teachers greet each other in the hallways, students model 3R behavior of being Respectful, Responsible, Role Models and demonstrate characteristics of excellence both in and out of the classroom. At TBE we work hard and challenge ourselves to always do our personal best. “Excellence every day, in every way” is our motto.

3. How will your new staff members complement the present staff?

All of our new teachers are coming with previous experience in education and have experience working in the Collier County Public Schools system. We have found the best teachers to strengthen our already outstanding teams. Here’s a list of the new teachers:

  • Alexandra Iaonatta, Kindergarten, coming to us from ME
  • Gail Keegan, First Grade, former TBE teacher
  •  Katie Newsam, Third Grade, coming to us from AVE
  •  Stephanie Parker, Third Grade, former LES teacher
  •  Catherine Petersen, Fourth Grade, coming to us from Eden Park
  •  Amanda Ray, Fifth Grade, coming to us from ENM
  •  Marilyn Morales, Fifth Grade, former TBE Media Specialist

Each new hire brings an area of strength that sets them apart and identifies them as a great fit for this school.

4. Speaking of new staff, you’ve hired a new assistant principal to fill your shoes, right?

Yes, Alyssa Ledbetter, from Golden Gate Elementary, will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience in the area of elementary curriculum, staff development and improving student achievement. Alyssa has two beautiful children, Mya, 5 who will be starting Kindergarten and Mason, 8 months. Alyssa has family on the Marco Island and is connected to the Marco Island community

. 5. What are some events and programs you’re looking forward to this year?

We’re thrilled to host our patriotic Veterans Day celebration again this year in November, which is a special tribute to the members of our military and the Marco Island community.

Last year, for the first time ever, we hosted our own fundraiser that allowed 100% of the money raised to come directly back to the school rather than sharing 2/3 of the profit with an outside company. We had strong support from the parents and community and were overwhelmed with the success of this event.

We look forward to using a similar structure again this year to ensure that our students

From left: Principal Katie Maya with Alyssa Ledbetter, Assistant Principal and Reading Coach and Molly Skudnig.

From left: Principal Katie Maya with Alyssa Ledbetter, Assistant Principal and Reading Coach and Molly Skudnig.

and teachers have what they need to be successful in the classroom. The year will culminate with our big STEAM event in May, where students are able to showcase their learning and families have an opportunity to interact and experience STEAM activities together.

6. Who are your new PTO officers and what support are you anticipating this year from PTO?

Brandi Carmignani is our new PTO President and we welcome Janice Barrett-Cox as a new board member. We are thankful for the continued support of our additional board members: Debbie Hobbs, Michelle Taylor, Rebecca Anderson and Jade Purcell. PTO does so much to support our teachers, parents and students throughout the school year. I encourage any parent looking for ways to get involved in the school to come to a PTO meeting to learn more about what is happening in our school and become a part of the school community.

7. Are there new academic programs or initiatives that will be forthcoming this year?

We are excited the COVE (Collier Online Virtual Education) Spanish program will be offered again this year in grade 5, allowing students to develop their skills in the Spanish language.

Cambridge Primary is also a new program that will be offered in Grades 3-5, which focuses on the development of critical thinking skills, problem-solving, communication and collaboration.

We will continue our school wide focus of STEAM initiative, with science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics integration across all grade levels. This is an area with much support from the district as they have helped to establish a STEAM activity in every grade level from the use of Codepillers in Kindergarten to Lego Robotics in Fifth grade.

8. Is your School Advisory Committee ready to commence its work or are you looking for additional members?

We will likely have a parent opening on our SAC close to the start of the school year. We encourage any parents who are looking to become more involved to come to a SAC meeting to learn more about what is going on at TBE. We are also looking for a community member who is interested in learning more about the inner working of the school to volunteer as our Principal for the Day in November.

9. Million Dollar Question! Your first day with students will be August 16th. How will you greet them?

The first day of school can’t come soon enough! Children bring a school building to life. It’s their laughter, smiles and excitement that continually inspire us. I can’t wait for the hugs, smiles and high fives as students arrive at school on that first day. Children need to know how much we love and care about them and that we are truly excited that they are back.

10. Will students see any changes to the building or outside areas?

Playground areas will have new exciting games, there are all new exterior doors, the front office has new paint and a new logo design, the Media Center has been painted and is sure to encourage even more reading and there is a new awning that connects the main building with the PE pavilion to provide more protection in rain storms. We are prepared and ready for the students and their enthusiasm and energy. We’re always looking for more caring volunteers, so please stop by the office and complete the paperwork to join us on this adventure.

What more is there to say? It’s going to be a joyful learning experience for the students and families involved at TBE! Have a positive, inspiring year, everyone!

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