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Becker named 2018 Teacher of the Year

Lee School District recognizes Island Coast High educator

December 19, 2018
By CJ HADDAD ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

The School District of Lee County selected its 2018 Teacher of the Year - Island Coast High School digital media technology teacher Jeffrey Becker.

Surrounded by his coworkers, wife, children and Lee County School District officials - including Superintendent Dr. Greg Adkins, Becker walked into Island Coast High School's auditorium Tuesday morning with a smile from ear to ear as he realized the honor that was to be bestowed on him.

"It's unbelievable. It's absolutely surreal," Becker said of his achievement. "I'm super lucky. There have been a lot of awesome educators in my life that I've always looked up to that have been super inspirational - and just to be in that same conversation as them, is absolutely unbelievable. It's so humbling."

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Jeffrey Becker receives the Lee County Teacher of the Year award from Superintendent Dr. Greg Adkins Tuesday morning at Island Coast High School.

Becker has truly made his mark on Island Coast in the short two years he's been there.

From copier salesman, to guidance counselor at various other Lee County Schools, to teacher of the year, Becker is ambitious as it gets, thriving on the connection he has built with his students and creating the Best High School News Show at this year's Lee County Film Festival Awards.

"The world has a way of steering you in the right direction, if your heart's open to new things, you feel like your gut instinct is pulling you in that direction," he said. "Looking back at my life, never in a million years would I have thought I'd be a teacher, and here I am, and it's the coolest thing - aside from being a family man - I've ever done in my life."

Going through the nomination process only cemented the fact that he knew he had found his calling, Becker said.

Finding that calling is an important thing in life for anyone, he said, adding that many people go to work each day dreading the hours ahead of them.

"I think that we can have a whole new wave of next generation educators that are making huge impacts for students that need it so badly," remarked Becker.

Inspiring his students is the name of the game, wanting them not to do so for the accolades, but to help fellow citizens and make a positive impact on the community and beyond.

"All students have something to offer somebody out there. Whether it's their time, or passion or talents, whatever it is. That's the cool thing about teaching video production. We now have a vehicle where we can reach a ton of people immediately with whatever it is that we've got. I want them to realize the power at their fingertips, whatever talents they're born with," he said.

He said he wants to help students unlock that "a ha" moment, and not to think that they don't have what it takes to pursue any goal they wish to.

"We won an award for school news, which is cool, but I think showing the students that they were capable of doing something new, innovative, progressive - and that they can change the school culture and they have the power to do that, I think that's the win," said Becker.

His favorite part of the day-to-day aspects of being a teacher is connecting with the students, he said.

Connecting with the students is exactly what Island Coast High School's Principal, Dr. Michelle Cort-Mora, sees with regularity from Becker.

"Kids honestly love him," she said. "He has such heart. My philosophy is kids don't know how much you know, until they know how much you care."

Becker truly embodies that philosophy said Cort-Mora, as the two shared a connection right off the bat.

"He's a team player. Whatever you need him to do, he does," she said. "He's very intuitive. He can see a kid coming in with their head down and say, 'Hey buddy, what's going on?' and instantly, turning that frown upside down. We have 1,700 kids in our building, and believe it or not, he knows all the kids. He stands out in the hallway and greets kids with me every morning. Fist bumps, handshakes, he just has such a connection with the students."

When Dr. Cort-Mora got the sheet to nominate a teacher from Island Coast, she knew right away who she would want to represent her school.

"I didn't even have to think about it. It was instantaneous," she said.

Becker is enthusiastic about his profession to say the least, as he aspires to do whatever he can to help drive, motivate or encourage students to go beyond their expectations of themselves.

"I'm really lucky to have found that calling," he said. "After being a guidance counselor, I just knew I needed to be with students more. I almost feel bad that I spent so much of my life not being a teacher, and I'm just so happy to have hit my stride and have kind of found my sweet spot."

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj



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