Teachers from Durant and Plant City High Schools were treated to barbecue lunches this week, courtesy of Colette McEntire.
Colette McEntire felt that teachers were underpaid and under appreciated. So, for this week at least, she made sure they were well fed.
McEntire, a Plant City-based realtor, spent her Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons feeding about 400 local high school teachers. Tuesday, she provided lunch to about 200 Plant City High School teachers and fed another 200 from Durant High School the following day.
McEntire had Plant City’s First Choice Barbecue provide food for the teachers. The event was a first for her.
“I was trying to give back to the community,” McEntire said. “Teachers are really not very appreciated. I wanted to do something to kick off the school year and say thanks for everything they do.”
McEntire spoke with her friend, Nia Ramo, about what she might be able to do to help the community. McEntire is also a client of
Ramo’s social media and content marketing agency, Graphite Media. After working together for a bit, the two became fast friends, Ramo said. She was eager to help McEntire plan.
Ramo said when conversations about giving back to the community began, teachers were at the top of the list.
“Events like this need to happen more often,” she said. “They get our children and they shape our future. We need to make sure they feel appreciated. It’s important to me. I’m glad it was equally important to her.”
McEntire said she wanted to start with high school teachers because they have to deal with teens who can be “difficult” to deal with.
“I mean, I wasn’t,” she said. “But my daughter was.”
High school teachers hold a special place for Ramo, a PCHS grad herself. Now a mom of four, two of whom have also passed through the halls of PCHS, she said she wouldn’t be the woman she is today without the help of Ms. Warner, a history teacher she had at PCHS.
“She helped shape who I am,” Ramo said. “She taught me I could be misunderstood and still go forward in life. Because of her I didn’t think I had to be like anyone else.”
Teachers at both schools seemed appreciative of and surprised by the gesture.
“We’re so busy here we never get to leave,” Danielle Odden, a language teacher at PCHS, said. “We work hard and appreciate whenever anyone brings us food.”
Pam Bowden, Durant’s principal, said her faculty isn’t able to get out to eat much and, when they can, there are few options near the school. Having someone come in is treat, she said, something that shows the teachers they’re appreciated. She said it also helps make a fuller community.
“It’s so awesome when community partners do something like this for our faculty,” Bowden said. “It’s a good way to get to know your community partners and create that community feeling.”McEntire said she’d like to make her back-to-school lunch a tradition and is looking at more ways she can give back to the Plant City community. Ultimately, she said, she wants teachers to feel appreciated.
“It’s probably not that big of a deal,” McEntire said. “It’s just my way of saying thanks.”