PLANT CITY Wilson Elementary School’s new teachers made a big splash - figuratively speaking - at an annual breakfast that welcomes educators to the Plant City area.
Wilson Elementary won the trophy for the best cheer with a synchronized swimming routine set to classical music. The cheer topped the efforts of more than 25 other schools at the competition at Thursday’s New Teacher Coffee.
A panel of judges selects the best cheers, which all have an education-related message.
Mary Means, a third-grade teacher and recent University of South Florida graduate, said she got the idea for Wilson’s cheer from a YouTube video. Means and her colleagues donned swimming caps and pretended to perform synchronized swimming moves from behind a blue canvas.
“I saw the video and said, ‘we should do that,’” Means said. “We practiced it last night and this morning.”
Wilson last won the traveling trophy for best cheer in 2009.
Means was joined on stage by Principal Gina Becker, Assistant Principal Angela Nerti and teachers Heidi Cabrera, Pam Kanyuh, Kaitlin Longworth, Abby Thompson and Allison Williams.
Plant City High’s new teachers won honors for most spirited cheer and Pinecrest Elementary took first for the most creative cheer.
The Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce has been sponsoring the event for more than 20 years to welcome teachers who are new to the area. This year, about 210 educators were treated to breakfast, given goodie bags and won door prizes that included bottles of wine and massages.
The keynote speaker was Hillsborough County School Superintendent MaryEllen Elia, who urged teachers to do their best to show students that they care.
“You make an enormous difference in their lives,” she said. “That one connection in their lives can make the difference.”
Chamber Chairman Nate Kilton recalled teachers who helped shape his character.
“I think everyone has one or two teachers they remember from their youth,” said Kilton, who called teaching one of the noblest professions.
Thursday’s breakfast was the final one as chairwoman and emcee for Anne Haywood after nearly 20 years at the mic. Clark W. Smith, regional vice president of Suncoast Credit Union, will take over as chair next year.
Haywood, library director at Bruton Memorial Library, said she will remain active on the committee that plans the annual event.