Teachers vow to start each day with a ‘fresh mind’


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Quest Elementary School teachers Barbara Geer, left, Carlotta Rosado, Cheree Cochran, Tiffany Letawa, Sally Kornick, Rhonda McCarthy and Ashley Shannonhouse hosted motivational speaker John Perricone, center, Aug. 5. Photo by Elia Lea.

When Quest Elementary School principal Elia “Ellie” Lea brought powerhouse motivational speaker John Perricone in to address area teachers Aug. 5, she had an ulterior motive.

Administrators need a pep talk as much as teachers.

Lea organized the workshop for teachers at Viera High, Kennedy Middle, Ralph Williams Elementary, Suntree Elementary and Longleaf Elementary schools and held it in the VHS auditorium.

“Mr. Perricone spoke of the importance of having a ‘fresh mind,’ what he calls ‘sho shin,’ and to come excited to teach everyday like it is our first day and yet leave the imprint on the minds of students like it is our last,” Lea said.

Perricone was a health educator and psychology teacher in the Maine-Endwell School District in upstate New York for 31 years. He won local, state and national “Excellence in Teaching” awards, and he has been the recipient of Maine-Endwell’s Distinguished Teacher Award for 12 consecutive years since its inception. The award is voted on and presented by the Senior Class. He is a best-selling author and a nationally sought keynote speaker.

“The attitude we bring to the workplace is up to us,” Perricone said. “A warm smile and the acts of contributions that we bring create a positive atmosphere for all stakeholders and a lasting impression on the students we serve every day.”

Among the practical goals of the workshop is teacher retention. Social media has lit up in the wake of a report detailing high numbers of Brevard teachers leaving the teaching profession for other careers or retiring, a trend not unique to the Space Coast.

It’s key to focus on the difference teachers make daily in a child’s life for the rest of their lives, Lea said.

“Ask nearly anyone what made them choose their career path or make some other major positive change in their life, and very frequently you will hear them say it was because a teacher believed in them,” Lea said. “While teaching at times can bring along its day-to-day challenges, it is important that we remember that every person has their own unique story. Tapping into the passion, compassion, warmth and kindness brought on by a teacher will help to bring a sense of happiness and comfort to the people we touch on a daily basis.”