February 18, 2020
Wakulla County School Board honored February’s Teachers and Employee of the Month at the February 18 School Board Meeting.
“We were pleased to recognize Gwen Fitzpatrick, Jessica Pichard, and Ingrid Funderburke for their dedication to Wakulla County Schools and to all of our students,” said Superintendent of Wakulla County Schools Bobby Pearce.
First grade teacher Gwen Fitzpatrick is Medart Elementary School’s February Teacher of the Month. She has been teaching there for almost 22 years since 1998, a few years after MES was built.
Fitzpatrick was raised in Minnesota and graduated from the University of River Falls in Wisconsin where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a master’s degree in Education.
She moved to Wakulla County because it had “a reputation for being an excellent school system and I was eager to work for them. Additionally, I like all the outdoor recreation and wildlife the area has to offer.”
On teaching first graders, she states that she has to be very flexible. “There are never two days that are the same! Just when I think I have everything prepared for the day, there is an unexpected interruption like a fire drill or a student that has gotten ill in class. First graders keep life full of fun and surprises!”
States MES Principal Stan Ward, “Mrs. Fitzpatrick is a shining star at Medart Elementary School, although she will be the first to tell you that she does not want to be in the spotlight.
“On any day, you can watch her delivering instruction, redirecting behavior, and adapting to whatever the school day brings, all with a calm demeanor that makes her students feel safe and loved. I am grateful for the experience and knowledge she brings to the classroom each day.”
Jessica Pichard is Wakulla Middle School’s February Teacher of the Month. Currently she is the Associate Dean of Student Services at WMS.
Pichard grew up in Tallahassee, graduating from Chiles High School. She earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Exceptional Student Education from FSU. Now she is working towards a Specialist degree in Educational Leadership, also from FSU.
In her fifth year in education, she began as a 3rd grade inclusion teacher at Hartsfield Elementary in Tallahassee.
After moving to Wakulla County, she was hired as a 1st and 3rd grade inclusion teacher at Crawfordville Elementary where she worked for three years.
“Mrs. Pichard’s passion for helping students and building positive relationships was evident when I watched her interact with my own son who was a 3rd grader on her hall at Crawfordville Elementary,” says WMS Principal Tolar Griffin.
“I was excited when she reached out to me and showed an interest in teaching middle school plus taking on the responsibilities of cheerleading coach.
“When an Associate Dean position came open at WMS, I hated to lose her in the classroom, but it was evident that she was the best fit for the position. She builds a great rapport with students and can reach those who are in need. Her knowledge of ESE and how to help both students and teachers with accommodations are showing great returns in the classrooms.
“We are truly fortunate to have Mrs. Pichard on our team,” adds Griffin.
Ingrid Funderburke, the Riversprings Middle School Food Services Manager, is the February Employee of the Month. She is in her 13th year working there, starting in 2007 as a Food Service employee, then was named the RMS Food Service Manager in 2008.
Funderburke enjoys her job, including her relationship with her co-workers as they work side by side preparing and serving breakfast and lunch to the RMS students.
“I also enjoy seeing the students come through the lines of the cafeteria to get their meals. The interaction with them is very pleasant. This lights up my day, every day, knowing I am doing something for someone else. Feeding the kids of Wakulla is a great job to have.”
Funderburke is also involved with promoting nutrition outside of her daily RMS job. She is in her 4th year as Wakulla’s treasurer for the WCSB chapter of the Florida Nutrition Association.
In addition, she states “Last year, I got the opportunity to participate in the Future Chefs Competition with elementary students. I had the pleasure of working with a student from Medart Elementary School. He came in 3rd place and it made me feel proud and happy that I had the chance to help. I am looking forward to participating in the competition again this year.”
Funderburke’s supervisor Lisa McCloudy, General Manager of WCSB Food Services and its Sodexo partnership, says, “Ingrid is an outstanding manager with the abilities to do anything put before her. She tends to challenge herself and strive for perfection.
“Overall, Ms. Funderburke has grown over the last two years as we changed the way her kitchen operates, using the best practices to serve the students of Wakulla County. Working with Ingrid is amazing. She operates her kitchen as if it was her own business.”