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We Know What They Did This Summer

Featured Photo from We Know What They Did This Summer

How do you unwind after being named a top teacher in Seminole County? We catch up with the county-wide Teachers of the Year from our May/June cover to learn all about their grand adventures during summer break.

The May/June issue of Lake Mary Life featured Seminole County’s elementary, middle, and high-school Teachers of the Year, all of whom happened to be from Lake Mary schools. Even though they deserved a break, there was no rest in sight for these overachievers.

Lake Mary High’s Ashley Barnette, the district’s high-school Teacher of the Year, began her summer by reading AP Exams for eight days in Louisville, Kentucky. She read and scored DBQs (document based question essays) for AP U.S. History students from across the country. While she was in Louisville, Muhammad Ali passed away, giving Ashley the opportunity to see some of the beautiful memorials and tributes that popped up in his hometown. Ashley also visited Churchill Downs and the Louisville Slugger factory where she got to hold one of Joe DiMaggio’s bats.

From there, Ashley traveled to England where, thanks to a grant from the ESU (English Speaker’s Union), she was able to study at Oxford University. For six weeks, Ashley studied warfare in modern age and British politics (1900-1945) at Exeter College, the fourth-oldest college at Oxford.

“My mind had never experienced such an intense workout,” says Ashley. “I was exposed to brilliant discussion and a variety of perspectives from all across the world.”

Newsworthy global events continued to follow Ashley. While she was in England, the vote for United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union (a.k.a. Brexit) took place, a new Prime Minister was named, and the Chilcot Report (the inquiry into England’s role in the Iraq War) was published. It was an exciting time for a social studies teacher to be abroad. She also visited Edinburgh, Scotland, and Dublin, Ireland, before completing her summer travels in Washington, D.C., to see her boyfriend and some of her favorite historical landmarks.

Leslie Antmann of Markham Woods Middle School, the middle-school Teacher of the Year, had a summer filled with her three favorite things: family, theater, and cruising. Just one week after school let out, Leslie, along with Jennifer Bennett (a drama teacher) organized a three-week theater camp at Markham Woods Middle. In 12 days, they casted, rehearsed, and produced a show. Students performed at the Markham Woods Middle School Black Box theater in front of family and friends.

July was a month of cruising for Leslie, her husband John, and their son Benjamin. They took two cruises, one with Leslie’s side of the family, and one with her husband’s. Leslie and John celebrated their sixth wedding anniversary aboard one of the ships, surrounded by family.

In between cruises, Leslie fullfilled the dream of a lifetime when she attended a musical theater conference affiliated with MTI (Musical Theater International) in New York City. Leslie had wanted to attend the conference for years, and was not disappointed. Some highlights included seeing four Broadway shows with talkbacks with the cast and sessions with teachers from across the country. Leslie was incredibly inspired to return to Markham Woods for the next school year.

Last but not least, Crystal Lake Elementary’s Chris Pombonyo might have been busier over the summer than he was during the school year. He spent most of his summer traveling and speaking to teachers throughout the country in New York, Dallas, Las Vegas, and at Penn State. Chris worked with industry favorites Ron Clark, Hope King, and Deanna Jump as a featured speaker at their conferences.

At a statewide conference in Texas, Chris conducted a seminar in K-5 social meda’s role in the classroom. He also was the live reporter on social media at a conference for ESGI software in Las Vegas.

The highlight of Chris’s summer, however, might have been Florida’s statewide Teacher of the Year gala, sponsored by Macy’s, where Chris received the Macy’s Magic of Innovation Award.

Back in Seminole County, Chris attended the SCPS and UF Instructional Coaching Institute with other SCPS teachers. He was the keynote speaker for the SCPS new teacher orientation. He managed all of this while preparing to move to a new grade – from first to fourth at Crystal Lake.

To keep up with Chris’s classroom happenings throughout the year, you can find him on Twitter and Instagram at @ChrisPombonyo.

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