Harns Marsh Middle’s Delude-Kerner earns APPLES Mentor of the Year award
A surprise, which caught one East Zone teacher off guard, went to a woman who knew which profession she wanted to pursue after her fourth grade teacher left an everlasting imprint on her life.
The APPLES (Accomplished Professional Practices for Lee County Education System) Mentor of the Year went to Harns Marsh Middle School Peer Collaborative teacher Allison Delude-Kerner. She is a sixth-grade English Language Arts teacher half of the day, with the other devoted to mentoring and coaching first-time teachers.
“It was such a sweet surprise, definitely caught me off guard,” she said of the award.
Delude-Kerner received the second annual APPLES Mentor of the Year award. The APPLES Program provides a multi-tiered system of support to beginning and new teachers. The mentors are nominated by their administrators and a selection committee picks the finalists, which is then followed by interviews and the selection of the award winner.
“Allison is beloved by our staff, administration, faculty, and students,” Harns Marsh Middle School Assistant Principal Dr. Joseph Restino said in a prepared statement. “Her ability to connect to and support everyone is unparalleled. She is a relationship guru in the way she shows patience, understanding, and kindness while still encouraging those around her to be their best and to grow and improve.”
Delude-Kerner said she loves the excitement behind teaching and being fresh from college she was on fire. When she received her APPLES Mentor after starting with the district three years ago, she was excited about what could be done with the mentor program and was swept up in the energy.
The calling of becoming a teacher came in fourth grade attending Mirror Lakes Elementary School. When her sister passed away in 2003 her teacher, and other teachers, rallied around her, supported her and cared for her.
“My world view collapsed. I wasn’t aware of loss, tragedy,” Delude-Kerner said.
She said a teacher took her in after school while her mother was working and did homework with her.
“They became a second family,” Delude-Kerner said.
In addition, she received a teddy bear, which she still has to this day, as well as an angel statue that played “Amazing Grace.”
“They were there. They experienced the loss with me as adults,” she said, adding that when the anniversary of her sister’s death rolls around they reach out and tell Delude-Kerner they are thinking about her. “It was impactful . . . to feel seen and valued and loved on.”
As a Lee County native, she attended Mirror Lakes, Varsity Middle School and Riverdale High School.
“I am playing a part in the future of the district. I think that is pretty awesome, being the cheerleader for them,” she said, adding that she is “East Zone all the way.”
Delude-Kerner said to come back to where it all started is pretty special.
“I think every day there is literally a new adventure,” she said of why she loves being a teacher. “Especially in middle school, the misunderstood group of people. It’s a cool spot. They are learning about themselves and growing in education.”
Delude-Kerner enjoys seeing middle school students turn into their own person by eigth grade and have a “concrete feel of who they are going to be.”
As a high energy person around kids, it only comes natural that her excitement rubs off on her students, who match her level of engagement. Relationships is another huge factor for the English Language Arts teacher, who starts each day as a fresh, new day.
“They hold on to so many emotions. If we get into a tiff yesterday and I bring it up today, it will bring them down,” Delude-Kerner said, adding that each new day is exactly that, so they can hit the ground running. “They want to be present in my class.”
This year marked her second year as an APPLES Mentor, which was only a natural fit as the English Language Arts department head, and chair for the last three years.
“Through that there is a ton of stepping up and leading and mentoring and coaching. It lends itself well to APPLES,” Delude-Kerner said. “I am constantly in contact with new teachers and experienced teachers. I’m a natural encourager and support and it fits really easy.”
She enjoys being a mentor, especially after her first year as a teacher when there was much negativity and huge turnover at Harns Marsh Middle School. Delude-Kerner said she was really disheartened to hear from others she was going to hate her job in five years.
“It’s a rough school, but I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” she said, adding that she wants to continue to encourage brand new teachers to the building, or career, that they are here for the right reason and are going to love teaching.
As a mentor she works daily with teachers. In the English Language Arts department Delude-Kerner has 12 teachers under her umbrella with six or seven brand new to the building, or career. She said with being mindful of the person, she always asks how their day is going, weekend went and how they are holding up before checking in with work.
The mentor does such things as spends time in the teacher’s classroom to see a lesson, hang with them after school, or bring in donuts just to make it more personal. She also helps with lesson planning, grade books and other nuisances that may become overwhelming.
“I love watching lessons, being in the teachers classroom to see what they are excited about. Their high energy, engaged and interested and watching them engage with kids,” Delude-Kerner said. “I celebrate with them, challenge them and give good feedback and work toward solutions if necessary.”
When asked if she would continue being a mentor she replied yes, “I love it. I love it.”