Joelle Beverly

Professional Studies
Teacher at Bayshore Elementary School

A recipient of the “Golden Apple” award, considered a “High Impact” teacher in Florida and recognized as Lee County’s English Language Arts teacher of the year, Hodges alumna Joelle Beverly is making a big impact in the education world.

A fourth grade teacher at Bayshore Elementary in North Fort Myers, Florida, Beverly teaches reading, writing and social studies to a diverse group of students. Working with children who display certain learning disabilities and require individualized education plans, she says, “If you were to walk into our class, you would see students of every ability, nationality, exceptionality and economic status begging to answer tough questions and who are willing to make mistakes.”

Dedicated to the success of her students, in April 2016, Beverly received the “Golden Apple” award, which is presented by The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools and recognizes excellence in teaching.

For many educators, the desire to become a teacher is reflected in their college degree and a passion for the classroom; however, Beverly explains, “I never had these dreams of being a teacher; I was really just looking for a career that would let me spend the most time with my kids. It is ironic, really.”

After attending Stetson University in Deland for two years, the Southwest Florida native returned home to Punta Gorda to get married and start a family. “People may be surprised to know that I didn’t do so well my first attempt at college. I made some poor choices and had a little too much fun,” she said.

Deciding to attend International College (now Hodges University) to complete her bachelor’s degree, she enrolled in the business management wheel program, which consisted of attending class one night each week, which at the time, was convenient for her as classes were being offered at Edison College in Punta Gorda.

In 2005, Beverly graduated with her bachelor’s degree; however, her decision to enter into education came when her oldest child entered elementary school. “I was pregnant at the time and decided to take the plunge and go back to school,” she said. After researching other schools, she recalled the great experience she had while at Hodges and decided to pursue a master’s in professional studies.

While in school, Beverly, who was a mother of three small children, found it difficult to focus on her studies and what was required for her degree program. Often feeling guilty about not spending time with her family, she admits, “It was a small price to pay looking back. I am able to provide for them on my own, and most importantly, I pray I served as a role model for their own educational careers.”

Crediting Hodges University for the impact it made in her life, Beverly witnesses the benefits of her educational experience every day in her personal and professional life. Admitting that her time at Hodges not only provided her with a feeling of independence and a boost a self-esteem, but the courses she took have proven beneficial and relevant to her work inside the classroom.

“I have absolutely no regrets about any part of my Hodges experience. I found the work to be relevant, and helpful in my workplace…The workload is challenging, yet, not debilitating, and the staff and resources provided were easily accessible and supportive. It was one of the best decisions of my life,” she added.

Believing that Hodges changed her life, she calls it her “mulligan” and encourages others to take the next step and embrace the opportunities provided at Hodges. “All of this work will be worth it. The time away from your friends, family, barbeques and birthday parties, it will all be worth it. Times will be hard, some nights will be long, but the self-satisfaction you will feel at the end of the road is indescribable.”

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