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Washington Township’s ‘singing’ teacher helps students process their emotions

Meet February’s Golden Apple Award winner, Mr. Nick Bunton

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — WISH-TV celebrates 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.

February’s winner is Mr. Nick Bunton, who helps elementary students process their emotions in the Metropolitan School District of Washington Township.

Mr. Bunton is a behaviorist at Allisonville Elementary School and is known for singing a tune while he works.

  • Nominate a deserving teacher for next month’s Golden Apple Award here.

At Allisonville Elementary School, 4900 E. 79th St., there’s the alligator mascot, plenty of students, and one “Singing Mr. Nick.” 

“He will sing a tune for you,” one teacher said. 

“He really likes singing,” added a student. 

While “Singing Mr. Nick” is known for busting out a tune, his day job at the school is actually as a behaviorist.

“He supports all of our students K-5. So he might go into classrooms – he supports more of the social and emotional learning and conflict resolution, and helping students stay regulated in their classroom and make great choices,” Principal Mary Beth Reffett said.

Reffett says Mr. Bunton has the ability to sense what a student needs and they thrive off of his positive energy. 

“Has the most contagious energy. He is positive all of the time,” 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.”

Judie Williams is a first grade teacher and says Mr. Bunton’s bubbly personality brightens the mood of every student.

“Sometimes, he’s just so bubbly I have to calm him down,” Williams said. “He comes in there and he brings joy and peace to the students and the one-on-one they have with him is very much appreciated.”

Williams has noticed a difference in her students since Mr. Bunton started at the school a year-and-a-half ago. She says the best part about him is how selfless he is.

“I think he’s humble. I think he is very, very humble. I think he cares about people. I think he cares about kids, and I think he gives all he has to be their personal best,” Williams added.

Along with providing emotional support, Mr. Bunton keeps extra hygiene products, food, and drinks ready for any child in need. Plus, he just gives his time.

“He does so much for them. He will help students emotionally regulate. He will help them in small groups. He does lunch bunches where he has worked with students on social skills. The amount of things he does around the school, the list goes on and on,” said Assistant Principal Dylan Warren.

Warren says that list also includes volunteering at a food bank on the weekends. Somehow, this Mr. Bunton also finds the time to spend his afternoons with students.

“He has worked at our AYS (At Your School) Program after school, too. So he is working with those same students, he works at the YMCA. He does a lot at his church as well, so he is just very involved in the community,” Warren said.

Mr. Bunton cares about this community and the students can tell he cares about them.

“I think he is very nice, he’s awesome. He is very smart,” 10-year-old Brooklynne Rutherford said. “He helps kids, he is very kind, and at no point of the day do you see him have a frown. He is always smiling.”

“He’s really nice, he helps children, and he’s a really good teacher,” added 8-year-old Logan Boyer. “He motivates us, and he makes us feel like we are going to do better.”

“When I have good days, he gives me treats,” 6-year-old Ashton Baker said. “He’s nice.”

That’s something they all agree on, and why he deserves the WISH-TV Golden Apple Award.

 “The very first thing I thought was, ‘Oh my gosh – he is the best winner ever!’ He is such an amazing candidate and we are so proud of him,” Reffett said.

So, Hanna Mordoh and the News 8 team went to surprise Mr. Bunton.

In the rush of cameras and people, Mr. Bunton said, “I’m confused!” When asked if he was surprised, Mr. Bunton responded, “A little bit.”

Mr. Bunton says the students are his daily motivation.

“It’s really them. That’s what keeps me going. For one, the students, they are all amazing. Let me start there. They are all amazing. They are so smart and brilliant. And they are just so lovable,” Bunton said.

When asked why he thinks he connects with the students, Bunton responded, “Because I’m really just a kid at heart – so that’s probably why.”

To watch other Golden Apple Award recipients, click here.

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

February’s Golden Apple Award winner, Mr. Nick Bunton, with students, teachers, and News 8’s Hanna Mordoh. (WISH photo)