By: Chad Oliver, Executive Director of Communications & Community Engagement for Collier County Public Schools
If ever a time existed when educators needed to lean on their colleagues for support, then 2020 is the time. Students, parents, and staff have successfully adapted to health and safety measures for brick and mortar campuses and embraced a range of instructional model choices offered by Collier County Public Schools (CCPS). First year teacher Miss Samantha Wilson doesn’t have to go far to receive advice from her mother, Mrs. Mary Jane Wilson, whose CCPS career spans 39 years. Sammie, as her friends and family know her, simply walks next door. As in, the classroom next door.
This Gulf View Middle School sixth grade mother and daughter tandem gives new meaning to the District’s belief in the CCPS Family, and the Wilson family ties to neighborhood public schools run deep. “My husband, Kip [Wilson],and I met when we both taught in Immokalee at the same school, and his mother also was a teacher for Collier County,” Mrs. Wilson explained while sitting in her daughter’s science classroom. A few minutes later, students settled in for learning with the bell signaling the start of the day.
Math teacher Mrs. Wilson walked around to review homework assignments and leaned in to ensure one of her students really grasped the concept from the day before. She is in the final year of a teaching career that spans 39 years, including 22 years at Gulf View. Next door, Miss Wilson engaged her students in the same room where she once sat for homeroom while attending Gulf View. Both praise current Gulf View Principal Kristi Lee for the opportunity to collaborate side-by-side, with Mary Jane able to lend wisdom learned through experience and Sammie sharing technology tips with her mother.
“I’ll always be grateful to Mrs. Lee for giving me a chance when this position opened up,” Sammie said with a big smile. “Mrs. Lee is just an incredible principal and has been very instrumental,” a gracious Mrs. Wilson expressed. Long before they were colleagues, Principal Lee first met Sammie while serving as a youth leader at the church across the street from Gulf View. “Sammie knew Mrs. Lee before I knew her,” recalled Mrs. Wilson. Now the trio have the joy of working and doing what they love together.
With one Wilson ending her career at the end of this school year and another just starting, Miss Wilson said they “couldn’t have planned it any better.” Her mother added, “It is like passing the torch. I couldn’t ask for a better way to end my teaching career than to have my daughter as a colleague, it’s truly been amazing!” Sammie feels like you just cannot make up a scenario like this, “to be on my mother’s sixth grade team, in her final year, and have a classroom right next to her.”
With Mrs. Wilson’s husband, Kip, actively coaching the golf team at Naples High School, she explained, “CCPS as a whole just has always had that great family feel to it, and that’s always good for the community.” Her daughter lived in Colorado a year ago, admitted she could not resist the urge to return to the Naples community, “I’m a product of CCPS, so now that I’m teaching here, truly makes it feel like home,” Miss Wilson added.
The Wilson family has contributed several decades (and counting) of teaching and learning for Collier County children. CCPS has concluded negotiations with the Collier County Education Association (CCEA) to increase teachers’ base salary to nearly $48,000and worked collaboratively with CCEA for a two-step increase for all teachers.
The goal is to retain high-quality instructional staff — like Mrs. Wilson — and recruit additional talented educators — like Miss Wilson — to start or grow in their career with CCPS. As Mary articulated, “I’m sure Kip and I’s career was an influence for our children, guess it’s just in their blood sort-of-speak to do it.”