Golden Apple

A look back at this year’s Golden Apple Award winners

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — All year, WISH-TV and Bailey and Wood have been honoring some of central Indiana’s top teachers — teachers nominated by students and their families, for the incredible work they do.

Each teacher won the Golden Apple Award and $500. Watch the video to learn more about these amazing teachers. And be sure to read some advice from the teachers who were honored this year below:

Cherie Struve

“As we enter the upcoming school year that will be plagued with more uncertainty, let’s remember to show kindness, compassion, and grace as we navigate through this new territory in education. All of these changes can be overwhelming, so stay focused on what really matters. More than ever, our students and their families need to feel connected. Building relationships with students and creating a class family is vital. It should be the most important thing that we do. No matter the circumstances, establish an environment where students feel loved, acknowledged, and safe, so they can grow their love for learning. Don’t forget to support each other and to cheer each other on. We need to celebrate each other’s successes and help each other through hardships.  We shouldn’t go through this alone.I am proud of you, and I am amazed at what you have already accomplished. I believe in you!  We’ve got this!”

Casey Honkomp

“Advice for Teachers this Fall: Inspired by Disney/Pixar – When told that we wouldn’t come back to school this year teachers thought, ​”​This is the perfect time to panic!” (1)
Teachers’ lives and students’ lives changed in an instant. But you wouldn’t let that stop you from helping your students. ​”The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.” (2) ​You learned new skills, found inner strength, and you were ​”braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” (3) Now that you begin to plan for next year, ​”the only thing predictable about life is its unpredictability.” (4) “Change is good.” (5) ​You must prepare yourself to “​venture outside your comfort zone. The rewards are worth it.” (6) ​You will rise to the occasion, but ​”if you focus on what you left behind, you will never be able to see  what lies ahead.” (7) ​Remember ​”today is a good day to try.” (8) ​Every day won’t be perfect, but you can live with the knowledge that you tried. Connect with your  students and families. ​”A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all  the difference.” (9)  “Remember who you are,” (10)  ​don’t become someone else, find a way to still be your best self. ​”Remember, you’re the one who can fill the world with  sunshine.” (11)  ​Students will remember you, not your subject or lessons, but the connection you make with them. Next year will be an adventure, but “​giving up is  for rookies.” (12) “Just keep swimming” (13) ​and ​”think happy thoughts.” (14) ​You have a community supporting you. Look to your teacher association, colleagues,  community, family, and friends for support. Together we will adapt and evolve. “Our fate lives within us. You only have to be brave enough to see it.”

1: Toy Story, 2: Mulan, 3: Winnie the Pooh, 4: Ratatouille, 5: Lion King, 6: Tangled, 7: Ratatouille, 8: Quasimodo, 9: Winnie the Pooh, 10: Lion King, 11: Snow White, 12: Hercules, 13: Finding Nemo, 14: Peter Pan, 15: Brave “

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Brandi Taziyah

“The advice that I would like to share for the teachers in the 2020- 2021 school year, is to be patient, flexible and kind. Be patient; because we don’t know when we will be back in an actual classroom. Be flexible; understand that change is constant and YES we’ll slay virtual teaching as well. Lastly, be kind to yourself. Remember we are stronger together, even at a distance!☺️”

Shawn Gilliland

“Next year is going to be very difficult for every teacher in every county, city, state and country. Normally by now we would have be planning and executing graduations and preparing to see our seniors at open houses to spend those last few precious moments with them as they get ready for the next step in their lives. Unfortunately this is not the reality of the situation. We are getting ready to enter an educational world that none of us could have remotely envisioned. It will certainly not be the world that teachers thrive best in. The best advice I could possibly offer to teachers for the upcoming school year is do what teachers have always done very well- ADAPT
Teachers have been asked to adapt and at many times do and try things that we were not comfortable in doing but we did (for better or worse) No matter what happens  in education- teachers- with collaboration and the guidance  of our administrators, will be ready to start the school year when that time happens. How that is going to look will probably not be a one size fits all solution.”

Kristina Trusty

“We each have the power to make things better.  It might be something better for you, your students or your community. When done with sincere intention, you will be amazed at the support people will provide when you share your desire to make something better.”

Heather Risley

“Remember WHY you became an educator. None of us got into this profession to get rich or to “have summers off”. We got into this profession for the kids! Everything you do while working with kids needs to be what is best for the kids. Keep in mind that what you do makes a difference and all of the stress and headaches are worth it.
Build relationships with your students. Take the time to really get to know your kids, and let them get to know you too. As educators, we spend approximately 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, 180 days a year with our kids….that’s A LOT of time! We become a big part of each others’ lives. Learn about what makes them happy and sad, their challenges, and what motivates them. I firmly believe that kids work harder when they know their teacher genuinely cares about them as people.
Don’t be embarrassed or afraid to ask for help and try not to compare yourself to other teachers. Virtual learning is new for many of us and there is definitely a learning curve when it comes to teaching online. It’s easy to get discouraged when you log onto social media and see everything that other teachers are doing during this time. Every teacher is different, just like our students are all different. Be willing to ask for help, get advice from others, and try new ideas, but at the end of the day just make sure you are doing what is best for you and your students. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. We’re all human and mistakes are inevitable. Embrace the fact that you stepped out of your comfort zone to try something new, and most importantly, learn from your mistakes.”

Nate Waterfill

“My advice for teachers is simple: Your students are their parents’ prayers personified; treat them as such even, or especially, on the difficult days. “

Darcy Kelley

“When asked to give advice for the upcoming school year, the first thought that comes to mind is to expect the unexpected.  We, as teachers, do this on a daily basis as we encounter unexpected situations during our school days ALL the time.  However, not knowing when the pandemic will come to an end, we are certain to face unknown and unexpected challenges.  No matter what our instructional days and weeks will look like, I think it will be most important to keep our focus centered on our students.  We have to stay positive and be willing to do things differently.  We need to work together as a team of teachers, share our ideas, exchange resources, and collaborate on ways to keep students engaged, excited about learning, and connected with their peers.  We need to be flexible, take risks, and try new things!  I would advise all educators to remember why they chose this profession and think about the passion they have for students and teaching.  Keeping these thoughts at the forefront of our minds will keep us motivated and dedicated to doing what is best for our kids.  We were made for this!!”

Heather Brewster

“Some days are going to be hard!  You won’t accomplish everything on your lesson plans, but what you can accomplish is keeping your students fed, safe, loved, and heard. Those things are more than enough.

  1. As a special education teacher for a population of students that have the most needs, there are 3 quotes that drive me and are my mantra. I believe these can also guide and inspire all teachers.
  2. “I wouldn’t change you for the world, but I will change the world for you.” – said during her CNN Hero of the Year Award acceptance speech, Amy Wright – Founder and CEO of Bitty & Beau’s Coffee (employs individuals with disabilities)
  3. After visiting the Charleston, SC Bitty & Beau’s Coffee location last summer, I felt a drive like I had never felt before.  I learned that 70% of people with disabilities are unemployed.  My mission became to help my students develop employable skills and make my students more visible.  I want others to see them, interact with them and know all that they are capable of.  In general education classrooms, students can be taught empathy, compassion, respect and to treat EVERYONE with kindness.  These things will change the world for not only my students but those students that are learning to interact with individuals with a disability.  
  4. “There needs to be a lot more emphasis on what a child CAN do instead of what he cannot do.” – Dr. Temple Grandin
  5. Always see the students’ abilities and build from those.  That is when the cannots become the CANS!  Encourage your students in all things!   Work together to build a learning community so that strengths and weaknesses are balanced and learning takes place from one another.
  6. “Every student can learn. Just not on the same day or in the same way.” – George Evans
  7. As stated earlier, lesson plans may not go the way you thought they would. It is OK.  Changing plans and strategies in the middle of the lesson, to reach a student that is struggling, embodies the essence of what being a teacher truly means.

Lastly, develop positive relationships with your students and families.  We know this coming school year will look different than it has in the past.  Knowing your students’ families and the struggles they may be having will help you to reach them better.  If we return to continued learning at home, offer to deliver school prepared meals on a weekly basis (if your school is participating in this program) and deliver homework packets to the home, if internet access is a struggle.  This will not only help your students and families but it will help your teacher heart to be able to see them in person and know that you are making a difference.”

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