Angela Nealy’s kind and nurturing personality is just what’s needed in her role as Gotha Middle School’s SAFE Coordinator and in her role as an Informed Families Ambassador. SAFE, which stands for Student Assistance and Family Empowerment, is a program to assist in making school campuses safe and drug free so all students have the opportunity to be successful in school. This is done through preventive, supportive and responsive action. And her zebra print sofa helps offer a sense of comfort to all (students and adults) that enter the SAFE Zone. Nealy, who has worked as a school administrator for 19 years, works with the students, staff and parents in these efforts.
“I am most concerned with getting factual information into the hands of our students,” said Nealy. “Middle school is such an impressionable time. I don’t want our students obtaining incorrect information from their friends and sometimes their siblings and then being tempted to try something dangerous as a result.”An Informed Families Ambassador for the past two years, Angela successfully and actively promotes the four universal prevention campaigns, Family Day, Red Ribbon, Lock Your Meds and Safe Homes Smart Parties to students and parents in the Gotha community. Part of her success can be attributed to her dedication to training and nurturing a team of student ambassadors who promote healthy message to their peers.
“I always let our Student Ambassadors know that they are the leaders of the school,” said Nealy. “It is important that they reach out to and influence their peers. I remind them that actions speak louder than words.”
A mother of one 23-year-old daughter, Nealy draws from her own experience when reaching out to Gotha parents.
“My mom always made sure we ate dinner together and I did the same with my daughter,” said Nealy. “Family Day is one of my favorite campaigns for that reason. Especially now in such a digital age, it’s still very important to sit down with your family and have good old conversation. Sometimes we take that for granted because we are all so busy, but it is important that we take that extra step.”
Nealy’s passion for Family Day was demonstrated through her tireless promotion of the Family Day Photo Contest, which earned her and Gotha Middle School a $250 prize from Informed Families. More Gotha families participated in the contest, which asked families to take and post a photo on social media of their family eating dinner together in celebration of Family Day, than any other school in Florida. One of her students was also one of three statewide winners of a $100 Publix Gift Card.
However, Red Ribbon Week is Nealy’s absolute favorite campaign because she says it allows the Gotha community to have fun spreading a very important message – the importance of living drug free. Her goal is to reach as many people as possible, conveying a very serious message in a fun and palatable way. Aside from delivering Informed Families' ambassador materials, she screens Natural High videos during lunchtime and coordinates spirit days to keep students engaged. A very spirited individual herself, Nealy joined her students and dressed up as Wonder Woman for super hero day. Her efforts to educate and involve the students in Red Ribbon Week were recently recognized when Gotha students won 1st and 2nd place in Orange County Public Schools’ essay, poem and poster contests.
So what does she like most about being an Informed Families Ambassador?
“Being an Informed Families Ambassador allows me the opportunity, on a daily basis, to be nurturing and to continue to provide an outstanding educational experience for Gotha Middle School,” said Nealy. “We really are inspiring greatness.”
That you are, Angela Nealy! Thank you for your commitment to helping kids grow up safe, healthy and drug free.