Seven Collier County teachers left their classrooms at the end of the day Thursday with Golden Apple awards recognizing their standout teaching skills for the 2021-22 school year.
Students in all the classes, spanning schools from central Naples to rural Immokalee in eastern Collier, were equally thrilled for their teachers, often mentors who help shape their futures.
Champions For Learning, the education foundation in Collier that co-sponsors the Golden Apples now in its 32nd year, brought back the in-person surprise awards at the schools Thursday. The COVID-19 pandemic caused last year’s classroom visits to be canceled.
The Golden Apple recipients are Robert Boyle, Immokalee Technical College; Amanda Bray, Lake Trafford Elementary School; Dyan E. Konicek, Immokalee Middle School; Stephanie Kutz and Lauren York, Lake Park Elementary School; Mishelle Levine, Oakridge Middle School; and Heather Stallings, Calusa Park Elementary School.
A community-based selection committee for Champions For Learning identifies each year six teaching practices that the teachers have nurtured and perfected to empower their students to be engaged, to learn and be their best.
Representatives from Suncoast Credit Union, a presenting sponsor of the Golden Apples recognition program, joined Champions For Learning staff and volunteers to present the awards.
Sixty teachers representing 58 public schools were recognized in October as Teachers of Distinction by Champions For Learning. From that list, the Golden Apples winners were selected with Kutz and York of Lake Park sharing one of the six awards.
“At Suncoast Credit Union, we believe a community that invests in their educators builds a strong foundation for students, businesses and community at large,” Cindy Helton, executive director, said in a news release. “By creating learning opportunities through community grants, Suncoast helps create stronger teachers and students. For this reason, we create opportunities for educators to share best practices and to grow professionally.”
The 2021-22 Golden Apple teachers receive a $5,000 grant from Suncoast for building their best practices. All Teachers of Distinction receive a $250 award, and the Golden Apple recipients receive an additional cash award thanks to Mary Ingram.
The community will honor the Golden Apple recipients, the Teachers of Distinction, and the Teachers of the Year at the Golden Apple Celebration of Teachers Dinner on April 22 at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort.