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camie zale

Photo by Ariana Santos

By Andrew Harris

Comsewogue teacher Camie Zale recently won the contest for Applebee’s Teacher of the Year. 

Students from around the Northeast submitted essays as to why they thought their teacher should win. 

Kevin Hernandez Meza, one of Zale’s students, wrote about all the outstanding things she did for her students inside and outside of the classroom.

It is impressive because Zale is a very humble teacher and we would never have known all the wonderful things she does for her students outside of the school setting until they told us. 

We also heard stories about her support for students long after they have graduated. 

We only heard about all the things the students wrote about. They said how Zale would support them at special events like singing or dance recitals and sports events outside of the school setting.

Also referenced in the essay were the times Zale led students to do special fundraising events which benefited other students who were in need. 

Her student spoke about how she guided her students to raise money for the Special Education PTA by recently having a lollipop sale. 

In the past, a large amount of money was raised for a student afflicted with cancer. Hundreds of students and staff held a Walk-a-Thon around the track — It was a beautiful sight to see with so many people participating. 

When the student and his family drove up to see the event, he was extremely grateful and quite emotional. Everyone felt so positive to be able to make a difference in the life of someone who went to their school. 

In the classroom, and with the support of other teachers such as Gia Grimaldi and her leadership, the students learned the necessary planning, financial management, marketing skills and more to make this worthy project a success. 

This is a way to help prepare the students for the real world where they need these valuable skills.

Photo by Ariana Santos

Brian McDonnell, Director of Operations at Doherty Enterprises which oversees Applebee’s said, “Our restaurants are committed to giving back to the local community now more than ever. We’re honored to support local schoolteachers who have transitioned from in-classroom teaching to online teaching, as Applebee’s wants to recognize their dedication and hard work amidst the pandemic.”

It’s wonderful that Applebee’s did this to showcase the good things teachers are doing out there. Sometimes teachers go above and beyond what they ordinarily do in the classroom and nobody hears about it. 

Our local Applebee’s is always willing to help out our district and community in so many ways. They showed up for one of the large fundraising events and cooked a fantastic BBQ with tons of delicious food for hundreds of the kids. 

It was a nice way to show the students that they were doing the right thing and to reward them. The Dougherty organization is one of the few companies that look to give back to our students. We appreciate having them as our neighbors and for what they are doing for our community. Bravo to them and our new Teacher of the Year, Ms. Zale.

Andrew Harris is a special education teacher and student character liaison at the Comsewogue school district.