Golden Apple

Indian Creek teacher shares community closet with students

TAFALGAR, Ind. (WISH) – Ask any teacher: some kids are less than excited to start 6th grade.

“That was me last year,” said Wesley Lane, now in 7th grade. “I did not want to come to school. But I came in and she made it fun.”

The “she” is Mrs. Kimberly Appleton, who helped Lane change his attitude.

“I loved going to that class last year because she made learning fun and that was everybody, it wasn’t just one person,” said Lane. “If I was ever having a bad day or anything she would let me come talk to her.”

Sierra Carter wanted more than just course work out of school, so she joined student council and Mrs. Appleton helped her serve in her school and her community.

“She always put students first and that helped us a lot with planning,” said Carter, now in 8th grade, explaining their success with canned food drives, Veterans Day celebrations and elementary school service projects. “She’s always in a good mood.”

Mrs. Appleton helped mentor Craig Davis when he was a student-teacher at Indian Creek Schools. Now, he teaches math full time there. He says she teaches others to care through her caring example.

“She had closets full of old clothes if students needed them. She’s the one who taught me to keep a cabinet with granola bars and crackers in case students need a mid-morning pick me up,” said Davis.

“If its khaki pants, dress pants and they don’t have those, she makes sure they have that and it has a huge impact. Not only on their self-esteem but the relationship she has with her students,” said Angie Burgess, assistant teacher in special education. “When you build rapport with the student you can get them to work for you.”

Her community closet impacts even students who don’t need to use it, like Carter, who said it makes her happy. Other students said it inspires them to serve others too.

“Makes me feel really happy that people can actually get winter clothes if they don’t have it,” she said.

“They know that she genuinely cares so they want to make her happy and make her proud,” added Burgess.

Mrs. Appleton has not only impacted her school but also her home. She was nominated for the Golden Apple Award by her sister.

“As a mom, we were struggling at home working on the e-learning. She could talk me through any of the lessons we were struggling with,” said Tamara O’Dowd, explaining how Mrs. Appleton would video call her sons to help with homework. “She’s one of a kind. I don’t know what I would do without her.”

So, at a supposed fire drill, our WISH-TV Golden Apple team helped the Indian Creek students and staff say “thank you.” Mrs. Appleton walked outside and was greeted by 140 sixth graders and two television cameras. We told her she won the Golden Apple Award, and Bailey Wood from Bailey and Wood Financial Group presented her with a $500 check.

“I just want to say congratulations. It’s such an honor to award you and you can tell your students love you. This is a trophy but David has something extra for you,” said Wood, revealing the $500 check.

Our team showed her the nomination video from her biggest fans. Watch it below.

“Every day is a new challenge and a new obstacle but the students, they fill my heart. And I love what I do,” said Appleton. “I’m so grateful. Thank you it means so much to me.”

In an email, Appleton explained her passion for teaching: “I think teaching is so much more than just delivering a lesson. It is being sure students have what they need and supporting them. I help coordinate the backpack program for the corporation to assist families in need with school supplies. It has always been passion of mine to be sure all students have what they need to be successful and feel comfortable at school. I have had many students with clothing, food, and school supply needs. Keeping the cabinet stocked with items helps students. They know they can come to school and eat if they are hungry or take a meal home if they do not have a hot meal in the evening. It also helps build their confidence when they have nice things to wear or a pair of shoes that fit. They can take what they need and they know it does not need to be returned. “

Congratulations Mrs. Appleton!

Our Golden Apple team is taking nominations for next month’s surprise. To watch previous Golden Apple surprises, click here.