Christie Bassett ’07 Named Polk County Teacher of the Year

Feb 10, 2014

by Cary McMullen | Publications Editor
For many students, college means discovering your true vocation is different from what you imagined it would be. That certainly proved to be the case for Christie Bassett ’07.

These days she teaches art at Highlands Grove Elementary School in Lakeland, and not only is it a passion for her, she turned out to be pretty good at it. On Feb. 4, Bassett was chosen as Polk County Teacher of the Year at the school district’s annual awards banquet. She gives credit to FSC for helping her reach the achievement.

“I know it’s because Florida Southern prepared me so well,” she says.

Bassett says she first became interested in art when she was an elementary school student herself and a teacher entered one of her art works in a contest, winning a blue ribbon. But she was also interested in plants, and at FSC she started out majoring in horticulture. It was a struggle.

Following her parents’ advice, she took a leave of absence and studied at a local community college, where she earned an associate degree, and worked in a preschool.

 

“Science was not a good choice for me, but I really enjoyed teaching,” Bassett says.

 

She returned to FSC, changed her major to art education, and made the dean’s list her first semester back. She knew she had found her vocation.

“I loved my education classes. And Florida Southern does such an amazing job with internships. That helped me realize that elementary school was for me,” she says.

Bassett joined the faculty at Highlands Grove Elementary, a new school, right after graduating and is now in her seventh year teaching art. She was nominated for Teacher of the Year by her fellow teachers and was chosen for the award from seven finalists, which included both classroom teachers and specialists from grades K through 12.

“I’m very proud of my art program. I work hard to see that my students get the best art education possible, but I never thought I would win. There are a lot of really good teachers here in Polk County. I’m very honored, especially since I grew up here,” she says.

Bassett will now represent Polk County in the statewide Teacher of the Year contest. She is working on completing a series of required essays, and she must undergo interviews. If she wins, she will have her salary paid for a year by Macy’s while she travels the state as a goodwill ambassador for the profession of teaching.

“It would be a huge honor,” she says. “You hear stories of how a lot of people are discouraged by teaching. I think it’s an amazing profession.”