Back to school countdown

Practice has begun for the Marco Island Eagles football teams, an Optimist Club of Marco Island program. Jessica Pierce, 10, will play for the Peewee team. So far, Jessica is the only girl playing this season and according to her mother, Cindy, “Jessica has no fear.” Photo by Victoria Wright

By Danielle Dodder 

Staples is incorporating Glee cast members into its ‘Most Wonderful Time of the Year’ commercials and summer camps are winding down. On August 22, kids will be welcomed back to area schools. Tommie Barfield Elementary (TBE) has some new changes to announce, and with the school’s help, a snapshot of back-to school by the numbers:

  • Number of registered students at TBE: 600 and counting 
  • Hours to prep a classroom for the first day: “Hundreds,” according to Principal Westberry. “Some teachers have been working at it all summer.” 
  • Percentage of teachers with advanced degrees: 51% 
  • Student to teacher ratios: K-3 18:1 Grades 4,5 24:1 
  • Number of wide-eyed kindergarteners expected on day 1: 76 
  • Different types of Crayola crayon boxes each kindergartener will arrive with:
  • Time the first bell rings: 8:10 am (don’t be late- lineup starts at 8.) 

Four new teachers and a new assistant principal will be starting the school year as well. Assistant Principal Katie Maya joins TBE from Lely High School, where she was the Assistant Principal of Attendance and Discipline. Maya has a teaching background in elementary education and says this area of education is where her heart lies. “I love the passion they (elementary students) have for school.” She sees her role as “a little bit of everything. I’m going to take on curriculum and discipline aspects. I also support the teachers in their work.”

The new teachers are: Lily Kerwin, Kindergarten, Jennifer Sickels, Second Grade, Rachel Schatzberg, Fifth Grade, Jennifer Jewett, Fifth Grade. Kindergarten teacher Haven Hardin is now the school’s Intervention Support Specialist. “Sometimes kids need extra time with a skill,” says Westberry, be it behavioral or academic, and Hardin’s role will be to help those kids from getting left behind.

Parents can meet the new teachers, tour classrooms with their children and gather key information at the TBE Open House on Friday, August 19 from 1 to 3 pm. No summer respite for the hardworking custodial staff; the school got its ‘Summer Deep Cleaning,’ which included the disinfecting of furniture, shampooing of carpets, stripping and re-waxing of floors (four times) and cleaning A/C ductwork.

A truly random fact about the elementary school: it has a trailer on property to collect aluminum. “We get paid by the pound,” explains Westberry. “It’s collected when it’s full and we get the money.” Funds go to support the Physical Education department. Public education has been subject to budgetary belt-tightening but collecting these simple items can be a big help. Box top coupons that appear on common grocery items are part of a program that gives 10 cents back to TBE for each coupon collected. Westberry would love to get the word out about the difference the money can make. “If you’re just throwing it away, we’ll take it (the coupon) and be forever grateful!”

Number of minutes it takes a 5 year old to fumble through cutting the box top: about 2.

Impact that funding (box top coupons or otherwise) good school programs has on a child’s future: infinite.


As the clock ticks down to the opening of schools, the normal adjustments are taking place to insure that students are accommodated and slotted properly. The Board of Directors of the Marco Island Charter Middle School recently reviewed the school's enrollment and waiting list and decided to add an additional class of 22 students. 

MICMS, widely recognized as a model school in the State of Florida, will now be able to take care of students on the waiting list, and continue on the school's path of excellence. 

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.