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A sneak peek at September’s Golden Apple Award winner

A sneak peek at September’s Golden Apple Award winner

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A new school year means it is time to celebrate 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. 

  • September’s winner will be announced on WISH-TV Daybreak on Tuesday morning!

When 15-year-old Harley Palmer and her mom Laura Howell heard of the award, they knew exactly who to nominate. Harley’s teacher works in the Metropolitan School District of Warren Township and has been with her for the last ten years.

You see — getting to school is hard for Harley. She’s in a wheelchair and, because of her health, she has taken classes at home for most of her life. However, in early September she and her mom were determined to go to Lowell Elementary School and talk to News 8 about her teacher.

Laura Howell (left) and Harley Palmer. (WISH Photo)

“It is because she loves me and she is very kind,” Harley said.

When asked if she loved her teacher, Harley quickly responded, “Yeah!”

Undeniable love. Harley started kindergarten at Warren Township’s Lowell Elementary School more than 10 years ago and her teacher has been with her ever since.

“She’s amazing. She is funny and very smart. Very caring. She has one of the biggest hearts I think I have ever met with anyone,” Laura said.

“She has become more of a family – our own family at this point,” Laura went on to say. “Yeah, she is like a part of our family,” Harley added. 

According to Laura, this teacher wanted Harley to feel comfortable and kept teaching her through middle school and now in high school. Three nights a week after school, she goes to Harley’s house to teach, out of the goodness of her heart.

“Makes me want to tear up. Makes me happy. Because it is truly just the love of wanting to be with Harley at this point,” said Laura.

Principal Kim Griffin says this teacher gives herself before, during, and after school. So this time spent helping Harley was no surprise. 

“She is very very thorough with students and really wants them to be the best that they can be,” Griffin said.

This teacher has been a special education resource teacher for 25 years. She won ‘Teacher of the Year’ in 2021 and took extra courses to teach middle and high school while continuing to care for every elementary student she works with.

“Build relationships first and then be able to build academic skills and social skills with our students and to bring in our families and our community. And that is what she does in a nutshell. She is able to really combine all of those and bring them together and really work hard to make those connections with the community and our families,” Griffin said.

Harley’s mom wanted to say “thank you,” so she sent the News 8 team a nomination for the WISH-TV Golden Apple Award.

“I honestly don’t know what I would have done without this amazing teacher for my daughter,” Laura said while reading the nomination out loud.

In mid-September, Harley and her mom came back to school one more time and helped the News 8 team surprise this teacher!

You can see that emotional surprise and meet our first winner of the 2023-2024 school year on Tuesday morning on DayBreak! You can live stream the show here.

To watch other Golden Apple Award recipients, click this link.

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