Influencer of of the Week: Vanessa Kunkel, Windermere Elementary

Vanessa Kunkel is Windermere Elementary's Teacher of the Year.

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  • | 1:00 p.m. August 28, 2019
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Vanessa Kunkel is a talented second-grade teacher and was recently chosen as Windermere Elementary’s Teacher of the Year. Kunkel not only shares her knowledge with her students, she also shares her knowledge and expertise with colleagues, parents and community members. She serves as team leader for her grade level and facilitates Professional Learning Community meetings during common planning. Kunkel also serves on various committees on the campus and is a great supporter of parent organizations.

What do you love most about your school?

I love the cohesiveness of the school, parents and community. We are truly a team working towards the same common goal of achieving excellence together.

What’s your favorite part of your job?

The kids! They are my “why.” I enjoy building relationships with my students and continuing them for years to come. They are “why” I am here.

What made you want to take on this job?

After taking an eight-year hiatus to raise my children, I decided to go back into the classroom because of the staff and families here at Windermere Elementary School. I volunteered regularly in my oldest son’s classrooms, and loved how I felt while I was here. The teachers and staff at Windermere Elementary School helped me rediscover my passion for teaching. 

What motivates you and pushes you to do your best?

My teammates and students. I owe it to each of them to show up each day prepared and ready to give them the best of myself.

What’s the nicest thing a student or faculty member has done for you?

This is a tough one. I feel loved and appreciated every day. The big and small things lift you up. Some days it might be something “big” like flowers for no reason at all and some days it’s the hug you didn’t know you needed from a co-worker or student. 

What is your favorite movie?

“Mystic Pizza.” Released in 1988, it is a coming-of-age movie about the hopes and dreams of three best friends. Growing up in Winter Garden, which was a pretty small town in the ’80s, the movie really resonated with me. 

What’s your favorite sports team to cheer for?

UCF Knights! My Alma Mater. It’s been thrilling to watch the growth of the school and sports teams over the past 25 years. 

Do you have any pets? What are their names?

My family has one dog, Zoey, and two snakes! Having only boys means learning to appreciate creatures that I never would have considered pets before.


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