FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools announced Kassandra Cooper, a senior at North Fort Myers High, and Yaricela Vargas, a senior at South Fort Myers High were surprised on Wednesday, March 10th virtually, via zoom, as the recipients of the Golden Futures Scholarship. The initiative is designed to identify, support, and hone the talents of Lee County high school students who wish to become teachers.
The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools and the School District of Lee County have combined efforts to recruit and retain teachers from its greatest community asset: the students. The goal is to keep interested students who want to seek a career as a teacher here in the School District of Lee County.
The Golden Futures Scholarship Program provides four years of tuition to Florida Gulf Coast University and Florida SouthWestern State College and is awarded annually to deserving high school seniors attending a Lee County District School.
Scholarship recipients must exemplify qualities of educational leadership and demonstrate a passion to teach. Recipients receive mentoring and support from members of the Academy of Teachers throughout college and into their initial years in the classroom. A condition of the scholarship requires recipients to complete a minimum of four years of service to Lee County District Schools upon graduation.
Senior, Kassandra will be attending FGCU in the fall. Kassandra’s mother and step-father inspired her to pursue a career as an educator. Her dream would be to graduate and teach alongside them both at Diplomat Middle School as a music/orchestra teacher. Kassandra’s goal as a future educator is to expand the music and orchestra department throughout the School District of Lee County while passing along her passion for arts to her future students.
Kassandra is very involved with many extracurricular activities in and out of school, she is in Math Club, National Honor Society, and the secretary for both Tri-M Honor Society and the Orchestra Council. She is the first chair of the FGCU Philharmonia Orchestra and in her spare time gives private cello lessons.
Music has changed Kassandra's life in many ways. She looks forward to creating a warm environment in her future classroom where students have the opportunity to express themselves through music.
Senior, Yaricela will be attending FSW in the fall and will be pursuing a degree in elementary education She believes that one of the most important and influential careers one can have is being an educator.
Yarceila expressed that she would not be on the successful path she is on today without the support from her teachers. She wants to create a classroom where mistakes are allowed to be made and kindness and support are provided daily.
Yaricela realized she wanted to become a teacher while volunteering at a daycare center. Seeing the students hit major milestones at such a young age is what ultimately motivated her.
Besides volunteering in her spare time she also works part-time as a server at an assisted senior living facility. Yaricela can't wait to have a classroom and students of her own.
“During this year of the pandemic, the importance of teachers has been underscored, to say the least,” says Marshall T. Bower, President & CEO of The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools. “Teachers play a significant role and have a lasting impact in our community. That is why this scholarship is so important. Recruiting and “growing our own” teachers is a win-win for everyone.”
Each scholarship is paid through a partnership with both FGCU and FSW and also through sponsorships with Frank Galeana, Gulf Harbor Insurance, and fundraisers through the School District. Both the Golden Futures Scholarship Program and the Grow Your Own Program are partnerships between the Foundation for Lee County Public Schools and the School District of Lee County.