SARASOTA (WWSB) - ABC7 is teaming up with Gettel Automotive to honor local teachers every month. We’re calling them our Chalkboard Champions! February’s winner in Sarasota County is from McIntosh Middle School: Mr. Robert Craig.
For one mother and son duo, Mr. Craig is much more than a teacher. He’s a mentor, a counselor and most importantly a friend. That’s why he was nominated and selected as a Chalkboard Champion.
Last November, a student in Mr. Craig’s class, Cody O’Brien, lost his father. It was a sudden passing that the family wasn’t ready for. But their superhero, Mr. Craig stuck by their sides top help pick up the pieces during the hardest time of their lives. That’s why Cody’s mom, Kelly O’Brien, nominated Mr. Craig as a Chalkboard Champion.
“He was there whenever Cody needed him," Kelly said. "If he needed to escape from class, he could go see him. If he needed someone to talk to, he was there.”
Mr. Craig was shocked to receive the award and speechless to know the nomination came from Cody and his mom.
“He went through a rough experience, and I saw how hard it was for him, so I reached out to him and his mom and grandma and in turn formed a close connection," Mr. Craig described. "Everyone needs someone there for them during the hard time. There were teachers there for me during hard times so I was glad to be there for him.”
Those tough times are ones that still Cody isn’t ready to talk about, but it’s a bond you can see without words.
Cody has since graduated from McIntosh Middle School and is now at Sarasota High School.
“Cody loves him," Kelly said. "They keep in touch through email.”
Mr. Craig’s generosity and kindness goes beyond his relationship with Cody and his family.
“If he was that good to my son, I just think, how is he with everyone else.”
His colleagues say he’s the same way with all of his students: supportive, caring, and life-changing.
“I think the best part of what I do is being able to show kids on a daily basis that yes there are unfortunate things that happen in all of our lives and circumstances that are sometimes out of our control, but with hard work, determination and positive mindset, we really do have the power to shape our own futures," Mr. Craig. said.
If you’re interested in nominating a Chalkboard Champion from Sarasota or Manatee County, click here.