A Friday, late morning lunchtime provided a surprise for Lewis School Band Director Mike Wilson as he sat in the teachers lunch room and lounge.
On Jan. 19, he didn’t know that Zach McCluskey and Catherine Card were about to present him with a “Thank A Teacher” presentation. McCluskey serves as Chief Executive Officer of HCA Florida Fort Walton-Destin Hospital, while Card is public information officer for the Okaloosa County School District.
Wilson received “Thank A Teacher” after being nominated for the award by a colleague. This local branch of the HCA Healthcare network and the Okaloosa Public Schools Foundation began this partnership to recognize educators.
Before the surprise dedication, Lewis School Assistant Principal Amy Morgan told both McCluskey and Card that Wilson is “one of those people who goes above and beyond.
“He’s prepared, jumps in, and the kids look up to him.”
Upon entering the teacher’s lunchroom, Morgan explained the purpose and introduced the guests. When she announced Wilson’s name, the educators applauded.
Wilson, Morgan said, spends the summers outside during band camp; he works to find instruments for students who can get them on their own, he sees former students return to help the Lewis students who need assistance, and he promotes the wellbeing of all his students and his colleagues.
McCluskey followed by reading from the nomination letter: “Mr. Wilson spends countless hours with students after school providing lessons and tutoring. His dedication to his students can be seen through those students who have left Lewis and are thriving in music programs across the district and the state.
“Beyond his musical expertise, Mr. Wilson is an approachable and caring mentor. He takes the time to understand each student’s unique strengths and challenges, providing personalized guidance that extends beyond the confines of the classroom,” the nomination also read.
Both McCluskey and Card presented the $250 Okaloosa Public Schools Foundation check, an award that Wilson can spend at his discretion.
HCA Florida Fort Walton-Destin Hospital and the OPSF formed the partnership this academic year, with HCA supporting the presentations. Robert Roeckers, a first-year teacher at Okaloosa STEMM Academy, was the first award recipient in November. Roeckers teaches aerospace and is an advisory teacher at the middle school STEMM magnet program.
The award will be presented once a month, and nominations can come from education colleagues, students or parents. To nominate an educator, visit www.okaloosaschools.com/page/thank-a-teacher.
For information about the Okaloosa Public Schools Foundation, visit www.okaloosaschools.com/o/opsf.
For information about HCA Florida Fort Walton-Destin Hospital and the greater HCA Healthcare, visit www.hcahealthcare.com.