SARASOTA (WWSB) - ABC7 is teaming up with Gettel Automotive to honor local teachers every month. We’re calling them our Chalkboard Champions. This month’s Manatee County winner is from Palm View Elementary School. It’s pre-k teacher Mrs. Katherine Choate!
The impact Katherine Choate has had on her students brings some parents to tears, and now she is getting a special kind of ‘thank you.’
Mrs. Choate was named January’s Chalkboard Champion and awarded $500, all thanks to her nominator: Tara Figueroa.
“It makes me so happy to see her smile so much,” Figueroa said.
Figueroa’s daughter, Isabella, was in Mrs. Choate’s pre-k class last school year.
The 5-year old says she remembers, “counting numbers and colors.”
But for Isabella’s mother, the most memorable lesson Mrs. Choate taught her daughter was how to speak.
“When Isabella started school, she couldn’t talk, so Mrs. Choate started teaching her," Figueroa explained. “She learned quickly and efficiently, and she was able to tell me things like, ‘my tummy hurts’ or ‘I’m hungry,’” where before Mrs. Choate, she couldn’t talk.”
Mrs. Choate also remembers how far Isabella came.
“She was able to express those needs. Even just telling me she wants chocolate milk over white milk, those were huge gains that she made," Mrs. Choate said. "Now she is being able to come up and say, ‘I love you Mrs. Choate. Thank you Mrs. Choate.’”
Now Isabella has no problem telling those around her what she wants.
“I wanna be a princess," she told ABC7.
It’s because of students like Isabella that Mrs. Choate has kept teaching for the last 21 years.
“When they come in they’re scared,” Mrs. Choate described. “They’ve never left their parents before, so for us to be able to give that long lasting foundation of something that they might not remember in ten years, but I know I played a role in that.”
Mrs. Choate’s current students already have big plans for that $500 check.
“A car! A motorcycle! An alligator!” they yelled.
“Well I’m not going to buy a car or alligator," Mrs. Choate told us, laughing. "But with moving schools this year there’s lots of things that we can use the money for in the new classroom.”
And Isabella has big plans for her future.
“I just want to behave, and now I wanna be cute," she said.
If you’re interested in nominating a teacher from Sarasota or Manatee County, click here.