INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — WISH-TV and Bailey and Wood Mortgage Lenders awarded nine teachers the Golden Apple Award in the 2021-2022 school year.
We took student, parent, and community member nominations each month and surprised the winning teachers in class with a golden trophy, a $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: Señora Wanda Alamo-Diaz
Señora Alamo-Diaz teaches some of the youngest learners in the Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township. She teaches at Forest Glen Elementary in the Spanish language immersion program.
“Surprised. But happy! It’s an honor. My kids are the best,” beamed Señora Alamo-Diaz. “It’s a lot of emotions. I’m really proud of my district, my coworkers, and my principal.”
October’s Winner: Mr. Steve Reeder
If you take a tour of Monrovia High School, you’ll see Mr. Steve Reeder’s history handiwork down every major hallway.
He’s filled display cases with real artifacts and powerful stories featuring war heroes, sports legends, and educational pioneers.“Sill very, very overwhelmed but very appreciative for everyone who recognized what we have done,” said Reeder. “The successes I’ve had have been largely because of what the kids have achieved.”
November’s Winner: Ms. Sara Wood
Sara Wood is a registered nurse and teaches health careers to students at the J Everett Light Career Center in Washington Township. She knows how to save a life and she also knows how to help start them.
“She combines her passion for nursing with her passion for teaching and shares her personal experiences and knowledge with her health care professionals,” said Nicole Cooper, Wood’s supervisor.
December’s Winner: Mr. Daniel Dorsett
Daniel Dorsett is the band director at Harshman Magnet Middle School in Indianapolis. Dorsett is helping teach so much more than just music.
“Continue to make great music, but a lot of the students didn’t say much about music in the video – a lot of it is about inclusion and being part of a group and being a part of a team and just to continue to grow that group and that team,” said Dorsett.
January’s Winner: Mrs. Sarah Terrell
Sarah Terrell is a social studies teacher at Mt. Vernon High School, who is known for being extremely social.
Terrell’s students said she is energetic, passionate, and loves her job. She will do whatever it takes to get her class motivated, even moving early in the morning. In fact, her co-workers call her the Tasmanian devil of teaching.
“I know this is what I want to do and where I want to be. And this is the reason why, because I want to help change lives,” said Terrell as she fought back tears. “And I mean, I have amazing students, so they are already amazing people and I just love being able to be a part of their lives and help them learn more about government and history and its importance in their lives. It is just a blessing, I am lucky to be able to get to do this kind of job – where I feel a lot of value in what I do.”
February’s Winner: Mr. Jodavid Blastic
Jodavid Blastic is widely known at Trinity Christian School in Indianapolis as “Super Mr. B” and his ability to help students thrive, truly is a superpower. Along with Blastic’s video-making skills, his favorite superpower is getting kids excited about education.
“I am overwhelmed really,” said Blastic. “I just love being with the kids and it is easy to do. I really just appreciate that they like me so much and get so much from my class.”
“I love the kids, that is really what brings all of it. I just really really love these kids, from the bottom of my heart,” said Blastic.
March’s Winner: Mrs. Jocelyn Sisson
Jocelyn Sisson, an AP literature, language and composition teacher at North Central High School.
Sisson has spent decades helping students write their own stories. She demands kids be their best and is known for “yelping,” a term her students use to describe her yelling and helping method of teaching.“I am overwhelmed,” Sisson said. “I mean, to hear people I respect say they respect me and have learned from me … You interviewed people that I hold near and dear to my heart as colleagues and as intellectual conversationalists and to hear that they respect me as much as I respect them, I mean, what greater reward is that?”
April’s Winner: Ms. Amber Ploutz
Amber Ploutz is a 2nd-grade teacher at V.O. Isom Central Elementary School in Greenwood. Along with teaching, Ploutz runs the school’s Drama Club in her free time.
“Thank you so much, wow! What a wonderful Wednesday,” said Ploutz. “Teaching is my passion it is something I have always wanted to do. Every day is different and every year is unique and this is an absolute dream come true. There are no words to say what this means to me.”
Ploutz wiped tears from her face as she watched the video message from her students and fellow staff members.
“I don’t do the things I do because I expect anything in return. I do them because I love these kids and I love this school. And I love what I do. So this is, wow,” said Ploutz. “I love this school and how every day is different and I can be creative. It is just, that this is my passion.”
DaMeisha Fleming is an Indianapolis Public Schools first-grade teacher at James Whitcomb Riley School 43. She does just about every role you can think of at the school, while also shining a light on the power of Black history and empowering students.
“Very overwhelmed,” said Fleming. “Very happy. With the recent loss of my dad, I was out for a few days… And so when I came back my presence was missed and just their hugs throughout the day. Just loving on each other. So I had no doubt or concerns about our love for each other.”Fleming is helping students to learn about their culture. She created an entirely new program called the Black History Thematic Unit. The three-week course culminates with a book kids make talking about their own black history. Now Fleming is working with the school’s dean of culture and climate to create the behavior matrix for the building.
“Growing up I never had a teacher of color and so my first year was here at this school teaching 4th and 5th grade and a student said to me ‘you are my first teacher of color.’ And that is the reason I came into education. I did not have a representation of myself. And so I think it is crucial our students know who they are and where they come from,” said Fleming.