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A sneak peek at December’s Golden Apple Award winner

A sneak peek at December’s Golden Apple Award winner

WALDRON, Ind. (WISH) — WISH-TV celebrates extraordinary teachers in central Indiana with the WISH-TV Golden Apple Award. It comes with a trophy, a school supply shopping spree to Teachers’ Treasures, and a surprise visit from the News 8 team with the help of Hensley Legal Group.

  • December’s winner will be announced on WISH-TV Daybreak on Friday morning!

This month’s winner is new to teaching but is already well-known by students in Shelby County. He’s been a track coach for years at Shelby Eastern Waldron Junior-Senior High School but just started teaching the sixth grade.

Life is a marathon, not a sprint. However, for one teacher in Waldron, finding a home came pretty fast.

“There he is; he even had a little bit of a beard back then,” Principal Mark Shadiow said, pointing to the teacher in a photo taken years ago. “He’s been here and I would say he is a lifer.”

This month’s Golden Apple Award winner went to the school where he now teaches. Shadiow says he hired him to coach cross country and track and field right after graduation about a decade ago.

Shadiow says this teacher has success in the classroom and in coaching because “he just takes a genuine interest” in students at the school.

“He is here all the time — whether he is coaching or not. He works the concessions Saturday nights at the basketball games,” Shadiow told News 8.

Kim Williams taught this month’s Golden Apple Award winner in first grade and says he has coached all three of her boys.

“He genuinely cares about our kids and I think they get that feeling that, yes, he really does care,” Williams said. 

Before becoming a teacher, this educator spent years as an instructor’s assistant and bus driver in the elementary school and went to college at night.

“He is phenomenal. He is able to make those connections. Even as a first-year teacher, he wants those kids to be successful and is willing to do whatever he can to get those kids to be successful,” Williams added.

Lezlie Stocklan, this teacher’s mentor, told News 8: “He takes that coaching aspect and applies it in the classroom and then takes his teacher side and applies it to his athletes, too.”

Stocklan says the teacher is already winning in his first year teaching sixth grade math and computer science.

“He’s really great at finding what they like and taking that and running with it,” Stocklan said.

Pun intended! In fact, he has students sprinting to his classroom.

“He’s very fun, outgoing, tries to make it easier to learn,” 11-year-old Noah Leap said. 

Noah and 11-year-old Gracie Walker are in this teacher’s sixth grade class.

“He is very nice to every student — he cares for everyone,” Gracie said. “He’s like, really good. He’s funny and he always helps us keep a positive mindset.”

That’s what his track athletes say keeps them so motivated to run. 

“I was going to give it a try freshman year because he was my coach,” freshman Avery Haehl said. “He is super respectful and super kind and he is like that with everybody — he just listens and understands each kid and how they are different in their own ways.”

He can be fun, yet serious, and shows respect to students, no matter their age or ability.

“Helping students or helping the janitor — he is just the kindest person I have ever met,” Avery said.

For this teacher, this district is family. That’s why his family nominated him for the Golden Apple Award.

You can see that emotional surprise and meet our December winner on Friday at 7:30 a.m. on Daybreak! You can also livestream the show here.

Click here to watch other Golden Apple Award recipients.

To nominate a deserving teacher for January’s Golden Apple Award, submit a detailed nomination here.