Holly Nichols Named Golden Coconut Award Winner
By Trent Townsend
This past week, the Fort Myers Beach Elementary School and the Beach Kids Foundation presented the Golden Coconut award to Holly Nichols, the Elementary school’s art teacher. Born in Fort Myers, she is a graduate of Cypress Lake High School and Florida State University, where she got an Art Education degree.
“She teaches art two days a week for us, due to the size of our school,” Beach Elementary Principal Larry Wood said. “She’s an amazing talent, and she even stays after school on one of the days to run our art club for the kids. That’s just above and beyond the call of duty.”
“She does a lot of artwork for the school, painting things inside and outside,” Wood continued. “She even paints the scenery for our school plays, and never expects us to pay her for it.”
“She’s even better as a teacher,” Wood said. “From kindergarten up, the kids produce work that’s good enough to put in a frame. She’s an amazing person, and the kids and everyone else just love her.”
The school and Foundation even arranged for a surprise for Nichols on the day of the awards ceremony. Since Nichols didn’t know she would be receiving the award before the ceremony, her parents, her husband Jeff (with whom she has two children), uncle and sister were brought in for the award presentation.
“It was a testament to how much everyone appreciates her, that her whole family came in,” Wood said.
The Golden Coconut Award was brought back by the Beach Kids Foundation last year in order to recognize teachers’ creativity in helping the students going to school on Fort Myers Beach.
“The Foundation is not just about the Spirit of the Holidays and providing gifts for families in need,” Foundation member Judy Haataja said. “It goes far beyond that.”
Haataja stated that it was clear how much the kids appreciated the work Nichols put in when the teacher walked into the room that evening. “She’s well deserving of that award.”
In addition to the award, the Foundation also awarded the Beach Elementary with a check for $7000, which will go towards the purchase of 20 Chromebooks that will help aid in the children’s education.
“We’re going to use those for our 2nd grade Study Buddies afterschool program,” Wood said. “We’re also going to use them for our Book Battle program, which is also after school.”
“In addition to this, we will be using them during class times,” Wood said. “Once we get them, we’ll be able to determine in more detail where we can use them. We’re really excited about this.”
It’s our goal to get enough Chromebooks into that school so that every kid leaves the Elementary at grade level,” Haataja said. “When any child has a need in that school, we want to be there for them.”