INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — WISH-TV and Bailey and Wood Mortgage Lenders awarded nine teachers the Golden Apple Award in the 2020-2021 school year.
We took student, parent, and community member nominations each month and surprised the winning teachers in-class with a golden trophy, $500 jumbo check, and a nomination video featuring their students explaining the teacher’s positive impact.
In the Golden Apple Grand Finale Special, all nine teachers were invited to the WISH-TV Studios for a celebration of their achievements. One teacher was also honored as the Grand Finale Winner, receiving $1,000 and a glass trophy.
September’s winner: Emma Bleakman, 3rd grade teacher at Boone Meadow Elementary. She uses creativity and a background in neuroscience to create a classroom focused on helping a child’s brain learn and grow. She was in disbelief when we surprised her outside of her school. We asked what was going through her mind as she opened the school’s front door.
“I was so confused. I thought maybe they have the wrong person,” said Miss Bleakman, laughing. “And then I realized that I was for me and all I could think about was the people that made an impact on my life, and I was all of them combined, and they’ve poured into me so much. I felt like any and all recognition was meant for them.”
October’s winner: Kimberly Appleton, 6th grade Language Arts teacher at Indian Creek Middle School. She created a community closet and pantry for her students. We surprised her in front of about 160 cheering students. We asked her what her students had to say after the award presentation.
“They were so excited about everything that happened and it was really funny because they wanted to watch the video the entire day.” she said. “But most importantly they had questions about the closet so I got to spend time answering questions about the items they might benefit from that are in that closet.”
November’s winner: Zachary Rohrbach, physics teacher at Avon High School. He created a series of online teaching videos to help students understand physics during virtual leaning. He told us he started teaching because he loves science but continues teaching because he loves his students.
“I really do love the young men and women I work with. It’s just great to be a part of their lives in a small way,” he said. “I feel like God gave me this interest in physics but where he led me with that is remarkable I think.”
December’s winner and the Golden Apple Grand Finale Winner: Marcus Dalton, PE teacher at Nora Elementary School. He’s reaching more than just his students with exercise videos driven by his fun personality.
“It just warms my heart to see the impact and how many people that love that and they get something from my videos,” he said. “I teach PE and what I do, those small videos, I’m just doing my job and I’m having fun and so to see the impact that they made just blows me away.”
January’s winner: Dan Moosbrugger, art teacher at Hamilton Southeastern High School. He created a peer learning class that pairs special education students with art students to help them express feelings.
“My advice to students for next year would be to let this past year be an experience we learn from. While it was hard, and we all had our struggles, we can use these days to appreciate the good that surrounds us, and help us see how much we can do together. “
February’s winner: Rhiannon Sanders, design teacher at Cardinal Ritter High School. She created a diversity club for students to discuss world and local issue and relate to classmates in new ways. We asked her what it means to her to lead with her personality.
“I think all of us teachers are there not just because of a passion for the content but to make a connection with the students,” she said. “Especially in art because there isn’t one correct answer. It brings out vulnerabilities and if we do it right it brings out our voice. I feel like if I’m asking my students to take risks and be vulnerable I have to do that first.”
March’s winner: Dan Andersen, choir teacher at Center Grove Middle School Central. He’s taught generations of students how to sing and be good world citizens, including his three daughters who became teachers. He’s also an author of a book about teaching young singers.
“I’m meeting with the publisher next week about the possibility of a second book,” he said when we asked about his future plans. ” My kids have told me that I can’t retire until all my grandkids have gone through. My youngest nearby is Owen and he’s four, so I have 10 more years. I’ll be 70, that’s okay.”
April’s winner: Gary Roberts, math teacher and sports coach at Warren Central High School. He created the girl’s lacrosse program and connects with students in a video series featuring recipes, workouts, and bedtime stories.
“The kids’ world really changed in a snap. We were out at practice when we got the call that we weren’t coming back,” he said, referencing the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The kids had a lot of anxiety and I decided they needed a little ‘me,’ so we had Time Out with Coach Roberts five days a week with a different theme each day.”
May’s winner: Alexandra DeSutter, first grade teacher at Pittsboro Primary School. She’s seen great success helping students who started first grade below academic levels due to the pandemic closing kindergartens. She’s one of the first teachers to teach post-pandemic learners entirely in-class. We asked her if she had any advice for teachers returning in the fall with students who haven’t been in class for a school year.
“You just have to pull on their strengths. Find where they’re at and you just have to go from there,” she said. “Take it one step at a time, one day at a time and keep pushing forward.”
To see 2020’s winners, click here.