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Golden Apple Award Grand Finale celebrates award-winning Indiana educators

Golden Apple Award Grand Finale of award-winning educators

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — WISH-TV is Indiana’s education station, and, during the 2023-24 school year, News 8 honored nine teachers with the Golden Apple Award.

Each Golden Apple Award winner is selected from nominations submitted by students, teachers, and community members. The award comes with a trophy, a school supply shopping spree at Teachers’ Treasures, a video message from students and staff, and a surprise visit from the News 8 team.

All nine teachers from the Class of 2024 were invited to the WISH-TV studios Wednesday night for the Golden Apple Grand Finale Special. One teacher was also honored as the Grand Finale Award winner.

Grand Finale Award prize pack

Meet the Grand Finale winner

Rachel Haynes, a special education resource teacher at Lowell Elementary School in MSD Warren Township, is the winner of the 2024 Golden Apple Grand Finale Award.

Haynes was honored for her devotion to her students, which lasts far longer than a school year. In fact, she has spent more than a decade teaching 15-year-old Harley Palmer. Harley started kindergarten at Lowell Elementary School more than 10 years ago and Haynes has been with her ever since.

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

Click here for the full story from Hanna Mordoh.

Meet the Class of 2024

October | Jeannine Terhune | Lapel High School

Jeannine Terhune has inspired students at Lapel High School for nearly six decades. She made music a part of the school’s curriculum, created the choir program in 1966, and became a living legend in Lapel.

Terhune hopes her long career can inspire others to do work they love. “Do what you love, then truly you don’t really work. I love being around kids…I love their energy and they give me energy. And when I see them singing and dancing every day it fills me with joy.”

November | Courtney Lawhead | Hamilton Southeastern High School

Courtney Lawhead is known for her compassion for all students in the school district. She’s a science teacher at Hamilton Southeastern High School, but she does just about every other job in the district – including running a program to help students in need.

“She changes the lives of so many students and really changes the lives of her coworkers and co-teachers, myself included. She makes me want to be better every single day,” colleague Katie Beegle said.

December | Daymon Higdon | Waldron Junior-Senior High School

Daymon Higdon went to Waldron and started as a cross country and track coach after graduation about a decade ago. He eventually became a teacher and just finished his first year teaching sixth grade math and computer science.

“He is very nice to every student. He cares for everyone,” 11-year-old Gracie Walker said. “He’s really good. He’s funny, and he always helps us keep a positive mindset.”

When asked what keeps him motivated, Higdon said, “I want to be the teacher and coach I wish I would have had when I was a kid. Just trying to create a better thing for the next generation.”

January | Audrey Lash | New Britton Elementary School

The first Golden Apple winner of 2024 was Audrey Lash, a first grade teacher in Hamilton Southeastern Schools who helps her students and peers think in new and creative ways. She also specializes in getting students to reach their highest potential.

“When you walk into her classroom, and you see her interactions with kids, you start to understand that she is like magic. They are transformed. They are watching her. They are waiting to see what she is going to do next, and that is what you want in a teacher,” Principal Lori Mankin told News 8.

February | Nick Bunton | Allisonville Elementary School

Nick Bunton is a behaviorist and helps elementary students process their emotions. He’s also known for singing a tune while he works — so much so that students and staff call him “Singing Mr. Nick.”

“Has the most contagious energy. He is positive all of the time,” Principal Mary Beth Reffett said. “He believes in all kids, which is his very best quality. He believes in them. He never gives up on them, and they feel that, and they know that they are loved and cared for by him.”

 March | Terrionna King | Purdue Poly High School Englewood

Terriona King goes by “Coach T” and cheers for students in the classroom and on the sidelines. That’s because she’s both a math coach and a cheer coach and her passion and her path into teaching is rooted in cheerleading. Coach T deciphers how students learn and then makes math work for them. 

“She’s someone who makes you want to be a better person. She’s someone that makes you want to have more for yourself,” student Auneece Noble said. “I feel like she got me on my path of graduation. She really pushed me to get there.”

April | Nikki Hendricks | Walnut Grove Elementary School

Nikki Hendricks has been teaching in Center Grove for 25 years — but this school year was unlike any other. Hendricks has breast cancer and continued to teach her kindergarten class. In fact, she teamed up with 6-year-old Giuliana Paris to write a book about starting kindergarten.

When asked what she thought was really important for people to know about teachers, Hendricks said, “That we can handle a lot and still put our hearts towards the people that need it, the kids.”

Her advice for others? “Just to stay positive and to always think of the things in life that are good. That everything can be better and you can get through things and there are always people out there to support you.”

May | David Edison | Bridgeport Elementary School

David Edison is a science teacher in Wayne Township who uses throwback dances and songs to relate to his students. His smooth moves help build a bridge for sixth grade students who will soon move on on to middle school.

When asked how he connects so well with his students, Mr. Edison responded, “I try to stay current in what’s going on in their lives. What their interests are and what they do after school. And even if I don’t totally understand some of their vernacular or vocabulary that they use, if I make that effort, I think they see that. And, maybe, that’s it.”

2024 Golden Apple Award winners

Click here to see Golden Apple Award winners from years past.