When kindergarten students first arrive in Belle Terre Elementary School teacher Robert McAnany's class, some are a bit nervous, she wrote in her Teacher of the Year application statement.
"Mrs. McAnany has an amazing ability of ensuring that both the parent and the child have a successful transition into the academic world. She has open, honest communication and is compassionate to the feelings of all involved."
— ASHLEY DEMAIO, media aide, Belle Terre Elementary School
But, she wrote, they're also excited to learn.
"One of my favorite challenges is to share content in a way that keeps students engaged and excited all day, throughout every lesson," she wrote.
McAnany has been teaching since 1994, and teaching kindergarten at Belle Terre Elementary since 2005.
Teachers in older grades often have background information on students from the students' earlier years in school, but kindergarten teachers may not have that.
"Students’ skill sets vary from student to student, and it is our job as kindergarten teachers to have all students master the preset kindergarten learning outcomes by the end of the year, regardless of how they started the year," McAnany wrote.
McAnany, Belle Terre Elementary Principal Jessica DeFord wrote in a letter of recommendation for McAnany's Teacher of the Year application, "is one of those special individuals who is able to build relationships with the toughest of students and find a way to get along with the most difficult of colleagues."
McAnany knows that extracurriculars help students grow, so she created a kindergarten engineer club.
"This true educator is cooperative, exhibits fairness among colleagues, and is a true role model for other staff members."
— BARRY WILLS, retired Flagler Schools assistant principal
"Some of the students’ favorite projects were building bridges for the gingerbread man, creating catapults and designing homes for the three little pigs that could withstand hurricane winds or a blow dryer on the highest setting!" she wrote in her Teacher of the Year statement.
The club stopped meeting because of COVID-19, but she hopes to restart it.
McAnany also serves as a mentor for newer teachers.
"Learning to navigate a new school or new career can be difficult, but having a go-to person makes the transition much smoother," she wrote. "This opportunity provides me the ability to encourage new teachers on how important it is to have an open mind, courage, flexibility, and to make sure they have a true passion for learning."
Retired Flagler Schools assistant principal Barry Wills noted that McAnany has served as a department head and on committees.
"It is not uncommon to find her working in her classroom early in the morning, or late in the afternoon, often leaving school to attend one of her students' extra curricular activities," he wrote. "This true educator is cooperative, exhibits fairness among colleagues, and is a true role model for other staff members."