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Vol 5 No. 36 - May 25, 2005

She's leaving a ‘giant hole in the community’

By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH – Her passion for life is contagious. She moved to the Island more than 10 years ago and when she leaves the Island this summer for North Carolina, she will have touched more than a thousand lives.

Lynn Drolet sent a note to the parents of her first-grade students at Anna Maria Elementary School last Wednesday telling them that she had taken a position as writer and editor at The Education Center in Greensboro, N. C. She will be working on teacher-related publications such as The Mailbox, Teacher's Helper and "Bookbag.


Drolet has been a teacher at AME since 1995, shortly after she moved to the Island without a job. She met with former principal James Kronus and left him a resume. After settling into a new home, her neighbor, Ella Wickersham, told her to talk with him again.
"They had an overflow of students that year and needed another teacher," she said. "I got the job expecting I would leave if they didn't need me the next year, but I have been there ever since."

Her method of teaching is one of enthusiasm, always thinking of ways to spark curiosity in her students and propelling them to find answers. From listening to stories in their pajamas to learning fractions while cutting up pizzas, students have had fun while they learned. She said she would miss that interaction with students.

"That is the hardest hurdle I will have to overcome in my new job," she said. "I won't be able to watch them grow and watch them light up. I will miss the contact with the kids and I love them."

There will be a farewell party for her at St. Bernard Catholic Church, 248 S. Harbor Drive, Holmes Beach, on Sunday, June 12, from 2 to 5 p.m. She said she hopes to take more than memories with her to North Carolina.

"I will have an office at home in addition to the one at my job," she said. "I would love it if parents and students from all the years I have taught could give me pictures and notes of what they learned and what they enjoyed in my class so I could hang them on a wall in that office. I would be able to remember the connection I enjoyed with everyone."

That connection brought her recognition on a national level. She is named in "Who's Who Among American Teachers" this year and she was nominated twice for the Disney Teacher of the Year award, once by a former student and the second time by a group of students and parents. She was also the 2003 Teacher of the Year in the Anna Maria Island Sun's Reader's Choice Awards and Teacher of the Year at AME in 1999, chosen by the staff there.

In addition to her work at the school, she stayed busy at St. Bernard Church as a Lector Eucharistic Minister, teaching second grade penance and First Holy Communion. She also volunteered for the Anna Maria Island Community Center on its last four Affaire to Remember fund-raisers and taught volleyball at Manatee High School in 1998. She also taught aerobics at Island Fitness Center.

"When some people leave the community, hardly anyone notices, but when others leave, they leave a giant hole in our lives," said Joy Murphy, a PTO member and home room mom at the school and a member of St. Bernard Church. "She is so giving and dynamic and she makes good things happen."

Murphy said she and other moms were discussing how many lives Drolet has touched and the number was more than a thousand.

"When she came to the community, she made it her own," said Murphy.

Beach Bistro owner Sean Murphy's two children, Alexandra and Benjamin, were students with her and he said she was a favorite of both. Murphy read "The Night Before Christmas" to her classes for many years during the week before Christmas and Drolet worked part-time for him at Bistro at Island's End.

"She was a great employee," he said. "There was laughter wherever she worked. I will miss her as an employee and as a friend."

And no story about Drolet would be complete without mentioning the frogs. She said that when she started at AME, the grounds out back were full of frogs, and she liked the sound of them. Over the years they have become her own personal mascot. So much so, that her students and friends have bought her tons of them. Stuffed-animal frogs, ceramic frogs, glass frogs, you name it. Drolet will be taking more than 400 of the critters with her when she leaves.

She’ll also be taking a little piece of more than a thousand Island hearts.

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