History and Process
In 2007, the Christian Chamber of Southwest Florida began honoring teachers in Christian schools in Lee, Collier, and Charlotte Counties through the Golden Halo Awards. Students nominated their teachers and a committee selected ten finalists, who were surprised in their classrooms. The committee then selected the winner, whose name was revealed at the Gala Dinner. In 2010, the committee could not narrow the field to ten finalists, so it was decided to honor 12 teachers as finalists each year. Then in 2013, the Golden Halo Committee expanded the program to honor three winners: one each from grades K-5, 6-8, and 9-12. As we celebrate the 10th Annual Golden Halo Awards, the committee has chosen to honor four teachers, one each from grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. As time passes, our prayer is that more schools will choose to honor their teachers through the Golden Halo process.
Forms for nominations and applications are sent to all Christian schools in Charlotte, Lee, and Collier Counties. Students nominate their teacher by answering several questions about their teacher’s influence on them, how their teacher shows Christ’s teachings in their classroom, and why their teacher deserves the Golden Halo.
The teacher then completes the application, describing why they teach in a Christian school instead of a public school, who or what inspired them to become a teacher, how teaching increases their faith, and how they try to instill faith in their students.
A team of judges reads every nomination and application and narrows the field to four finalists at each level (K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12); if a teacher teaches at more than one level, their level is determined by the grade level of the student(s) who nominated them. The team schedules surprise visits through the principal or headmaster of each school, and the fun really begins! A group of Christian Chamber members and a videographer bursts into the classroom announcing the teacher’s status as a finalist in this year’s Golden Halo program. By visiting unannounced, the group is able to watch the teacher and students interact and observe the classroom environment.
After all the classroom visits, the judges determine the winners at each level. This is a closely guarded secret, even from the Golden Halo Chairpersons!