Golden Apple

Center Grove choir teacher inspires generations, begins family legacy of education

GREENWOOD, Ind. (WISH) — Those closest to Center Grove Middle School choir director Dan Andersen say he’s inspired generations within the community, but also inspired his own family to become teachers.

Several parents, school staff members, and community members nominated Mr. Andersen for the Golden Apple Award over the past year. Tom Myers, a fellow member of Mr. Andersen’s church choir, wrote: “It is literally impossible to go out and not have two or three people go out of their way to come up and greet him and thank him for his contributions toward the growth of his students.”

Mr. Andersen has spent more than 30 years in education, moving to the middle school age group specifically to help them find their voices in what can be a rocky age.

Brock Bayler, 8th grade student, said Mr. Andersen’s class makes him feel “joyful.”

“I have somewhere to go every day that I really enjoy,” Bayler said.

Audrey Booher, also in 8th grade, said Mr. Andersen teaches them “how to be a better person and not just a better musician.”

His wife, Kim Andersen, works in in the main office of Center Grove Middle School, and describes him as “exhausting.” Two of his daughters would agree, and add that their dad gave them opportunities to find their passion.

“He just made growing up fun,” smiled Stacie Painter, Mr. Andersen’s 2nd daughter.

But what caught the eye of our Golden Apple team wasn’t just his impact on his students, the community, and his family, but the results of that impact: all three of his daughters became teachers.

“I saw him investing in students from a young age, and that was normal,” said Erica Colter, who teaches alongside her father as choir director at Center Grove Middle School Central. “I was never pushed or even encouraged by any means to be an educator. We were given the freedom to discover what we wanted to do.”

“Growing up all those years, seeing the way he impacted kids, made it even more of an important decision in my life that I wanted to be like that,” said Painter, who teaches 6th grade language arts at Center Grove Middle.

Mr. Andersen’s third daughter teaches out of state, and his son became a doctor.

“He’s the black sheep of the family,” laughs Colter.

Painter said she can thank her dad for teaching her a lesson she considers every day: “It’s more than teaching a subject. It’s not just teaching music or language. It’s that we are teaching and forming human beings.”

So one evening at the end of a choir concert, Mr. Andersen stood beaming in front of his students. Our Golden Apple team then stepped in from the wings to surprise him with the award.

“It’s just overwhelming,” he said after watching his nomination video and smiling back at his students on stage and several former students sitting in the audience. “This is why I do what I do.”

While grateful for the award and recognition, Mr. Andersen insisted that the greatest reward is seeing generations find their voice. We asked if he would share one message to those watching.

“Love on your kids,” he said. “Love these kids and support them and support their interests and support what they do and then they’re going to turn into you, right and then you’ll be here supporting as grandparents while they’re supporting them as parents.”

To nominate a teacher for next month’s award, tell us a story at this link. To watch other winning Golden Apple surprises, visit this link.