Golden Apple

Zionsville Community Schools teacher uses creativity, passion to inspire students

WHITESTOWN, Ind. (WISH) — Those closest to September’s Golden Apple Award winner describe her as a spectacular teammate, incredibly humble and a ray of sunshine.

WISH-TV is excited to kick off the 2020-2021 school year of surprises with a teacher at a school in the Zionsville Community Schools District.

Emma Bleakman just began her teaching career last fall, so this is only her second full year in the classroom, but she has quickly become a leader, inspiration and well-loved team member at Boone Meadow Elementary School.

She’s the daughter of a neuroscientist, so her students feel like they’re walking into a fun, comfortable learning environment. But Ms. Bleakman actually works tirelessly to create a classroom perfectly crafted for a child’s brain to grow and learn.

“She is one of the most creative and passionate young teachers I’ve ever worked with,” coworker Cindi Hamlow said.

“This is her second full-year teaching, but we love her. She’s like a veteran teacher in understanding how kids work and what they need to be successful,” coworker Kim Gray said.

If you find yourself at Boone Meadow Elementary School, it won’t take long to start hearing about Ms. Bleakman. One of her students told us her favorite thing about school is having Ms. Bleakman as her teacher. She’s a third grade teacher with 21 students under her watch.

“The kids at this age are trying to figure out who they are as learners. What they’re passionate about, what they love and how to be independent. One of Emma’s strengths is definitely teaching into that independence. Giving the kids the skills they need to feel like they are strong, independent learners,” Hamlow said.

“If they’re stressed or nervous, learning won’t happen. So she has things set in her classroom to help kids feel calm and ready to learn. Her classroom is organized. It’s spacious but very kid-centered. They have places to feel comfortable. The lighting is low. It’s just a very no stress situation,” Gray said.

It’s a big effort that goes almost unnoticed by the kids. What they see is a kind, caring, fun teacher.

“She’s loving. She’s kind. She helps out with if you get something wrong sometimes she’ll help you and she’ll help you spell words,” student Niko Santos said.

“She’s really kind and nice. She helps us with a lot of things and she makes it really fun. She makes school really fun,” student Lily Hundley said.

“She doesn’t think of what she does as special. She thinks of what she does as normal. This is her normal way of teaching and loving kids,” Gray said.

And when it came to the coveted Golden Apple Award, her students and coworkers say Ms. Bleakman is the perfect fit.

“I think it’s really good for her to have it because she’s really kind, she helps us with hard things,” Hundley said.

“She’s exactly the right person for this award. There’s no question to me that she deserves it even as a second-year teacher she’s ready for this award she’s amazing,” Hamlow said.

So when it came time to surprise Ms. Bleakman with WISH-TV’s Golden Apple it was all hands on deck. Her principal Tom Hundley set up a meeting with Ms. Bleakman to pull her away from her students, while they focused on STEM. The entire class along with some other students and staff and even Bleakman’s mother filled the front lawn of Boone Meadow Elementary School to position for the surprise. Then Mr. Hundley lured her outside.

“I don’t have words. I don’t have words for this. There are so many teachers that are deserving of this award, so I’m so honored,” Bleakman said.

Bailey and Wood Financial Group, the Golden Apple Award sponsor, presented Ms. Bleakman with a trophy and an oversized $500 check as a thank-you.

To nominate a fantastic teacher in your life, tell us why they deserve next month’s Golden Apple Award.