On the first day of school, Thursday, Aug. 8, Principal Robert Mazzoli and his staff welcomed students to Pine Island Elementary.
Before the opening bell rang, the principal walked the campus.
"I am just checking to make sure everything is ready for the new school year," he sad. "We begin preparing weeks in advance but sometimes there are a few minor details left but I can't find a thing that needs to be done everything is perfect. He peeled a small piece of paper off the newly painted lines on the sidewalk. We're ready for the school year to begin."
At Pine Island Elementary
for the first
day of school are, from left,
Austin Seaboldt, Bonnie Seaboldt, Michael Seaboldt, Principal Robert Mazzoli, Denise Romeo and Joe “Mr. Joe” Romeo.
Students and parents began to assemble outside the gate and Mazzoli went out to greet them. He knows almost every parent and student by their first name. And those he didn't know, he introduced himself. Moving from parents to students, he welcomed everyone to the school.
The opening bell sounded precisely at 8:25 a.m., and students streamed through the gate.
"Hi Robbie, do you know where your classroom is?" he said to a boy about 7 or 8 years old.
"Yes, Mr. Mazzoli thank you," he answered.
Two new students, Austin and younger brother, Michael Seaboldt, arrived on Pine island about two months ago from Tennessee. Their mother, Bonnie Seaboldt, said she's very happy to be here. The two boys and mom have been staying with the Romeos, Joe and Denise, since June.
"My wife and I have lived here many, many years," Joe Romeo said. "We volunteer here at the school all the time.
"I speak a little Spanish, very little, but enough to get by and last year there was a young student that didn't speak a word of English.," he continued. "I could see the student was frightened to death so every day I worked with the student and gradually, day by day, the student's English got better and better. At the end of the school year the student stood up in front of the class and gave a great report in English. It was one of the best experiences of my life."
Last month the Florida Department of Education released its preliminary school grades for all Florida public schools. Each school receives a grade based primarily upon student achievement in reading, math, writing and science. Students' results are compiled to generate a grade for each public school. This year marks the 13th consecutive year Pine Island Elementary School has received an "A" grade. The school also received the highest score (640) among all elementary schools in Lee County.
The school is celebrating its 52nd anniversary this year.
"There is such a great feeling of community here on the island," Mazzoli said. "We get a lot of support from various community organizations on the island. And the parents are all involved. We couldn't achieve the results we do without the parents involvement."
There are 225 students attending Pine Island Elementary this year. 37 in the Kindergarten class and about 15 new students in grades 15. A new reading class (Reading Street) and math class (Go Math) have been introduced district wide.
"This is the first time that we (as a district) have implemented two new programs at one time," Mazzoli said. "Our teachers have received training in both programs this past Monday and Tuesday. This, of course, is a challenge. However, the teachers are ready and will do an amazing job."