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Albemarle, Charlottesville Communities Honor 40 Teachers for Their Classroom Excellence

Elizabeth Cromwell Speaks at Golden Apple Awards - Photo by Andrew Shurtleff, The Daily Progress
Elizabeth Cromwell Speaks at Golden Apple Awards - Photo by Andrew Shurtleff, The Daily Progress

The 18th annual Golden Apple Awards celebration May 16 in Lane Auditorium of the County Office Building honored 40 teachers from public and private schools across Charlottesville City and Albemarle County for their service to students. Honorees were selected for the award based upon demonstrated excellence in the classroom, innovative instructional strategies and techniques, and their involvement in the local community. Students, parents, members of the community, and other educators submitted nominations. Teachers selected for the award represent less than two percent of all teachers in our area’s public and private schools.

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Better Living Building Supply and Cabinetry has sponsored the Golden Apple Awards since their inception. The company’s chairperson, Mr. Richard Nunley, often has talked about the impact that an exceptionally talented and caring teacher can have on the life of a student.

Mr. Nunley described the Golden Apple program as among the most effective vehicles for his company to give back to the Charlottesville and Albemarle communities. “Teachers nurture the inquisitive minds of our young people and prepare them for the challenges of the future,” he has said.

Albemarle County Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Matthew Haas, agreed. “This is one of the most important evenings for the future prosperity of our county,” he said. “These teachers who are being recognized are developing the business and organizational leaders of tomorrow. They are connecting students to such valuable lifelong skills as creativity and problem solving, communication and community service, and teamwork,” he said.

Elizabeth Cromwell, president of the Charlottesville Regional Chamber of Commerce and guest speaker for the event, shared that, “Survey after survey of employers reveals the top five skills employers are looking for in employees, regardless of industry or profession, are teamwork, decision-making and problem-solving abilities, communications, and the ability to plan, organize and prioritize work.”

“When students participate in group projects, where agreement must be reached, communication must be strong, decisions must be made, and problems must be solved, you are teaching all of the top five skills,” Cromwell said.

Dr. Rosa Atkins, Superintendent of Charlottesville City Schools, said, “As our guest speaker reminded us this evening, all successful careers begin at the moment a teacher connects with a young student in the classroom for the first time. The inspiration that happens at that moment and the passion it generates for knowledge and discovery remains a guiding influence for a lifetime. That's worth celebrating every day.”

Honorees were chosen by a selection committee including retired Albemarle County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Kevin Castner, as chair; Bekah Saxon, who represented Blue Ridge Uniserve; Jakki Crocker from Charlottesville City Schools’ Parent Council; Rhonda Angel from the Parent Council for Albemarle County Public Schools; and retired Albemarle County principals, Karen Marcus and Jo Vining.

In addition to a brass Golden Apple, eight teachers received a $1,000 grant from Better Living Building Supply and Cabinetry for classroom programs next year. Drawn by lottery, those teachers included Will Cooke of Charlottesville High School; Scottsville Elementary School’s LeAnna Dalton; Meaghan Fenton from Jackson Via Elementary School; Kathleen Kogge from the Community Public Charter School; Western Albemarle High School’s Monica Laux; Lindsay Lowdon from Charlottesville Catholic School; Melissa Mitchem from Buford Middle School; and from Meriwether Lewis Elementary School, Rachel Shamey.

This year’s Golden Apple honorees include:

April Barefoot, Agnor-Hurt Elementary School
Christopher Lennon, Albemarle High School
Cynthia Shepard, Baker-Butler Elementary School
Peter Bonds, Blue Ridge School
Elizabeth Strauss, Broadus Wood Elementary School
Trevor Bricker, Brownsville Elementary School
Melissa Mitchem, Buford Middle School
Andrew LaPrade, Burley Middle School
Christopher Lorigan, Burnley-Moran Elementary School
Olivia Eads Delph, Cale Elementary School
Megan Panek, CATEC
Lindsay Lowdon, Charlottesville Catholic School
Will Cooke, Charlottesville High School
Robin Ellis, Clark Elementary School
Kate Kogge, Community Public Charter School
Susan Love, Covenant School
Atlanta Hutchins, Crozet Elementary School
Kathleen Claus, Greenbrier Elementary School
Lori Alridge, Greer Elementary School
Lisa Boyce, Henley Middle School
Marie Decker, Hollymead Elementary School
Gabe Planas, Jouett Middle School
Meghan Fenton, Jackson Via Elementary School
Maelys Croce, Johnson Elementary School
Michael McCrory, Lugo-McGinness Academy
Rachel Shamey, Meriwether Lewis Elementary School
Meghan Streit, Monticello High School
Emilie Pastorfield, Murray Elementary School
Frances Racette, Murray High School
Matt Ewen, Red Hill Elementary School
LeAnna Dalton, Scottsville Elementary School
Jared Passmore, St. Anne’s Belfield School
Tal Thompson, Stone-Robinson Elementary School
Keren Heckathorn, Stony Point Elementary School
Heidi Morse, Sutherland Middle School
Melissa Combs, Venable Elementary School
Kevin Paquette, Walker Upper Elementary School
Makenzie Crawford, Walton Middle School
Monica Laux, Western Albemarle High School
Marian McCullough, Woodbrook Elementary School

Cromwell, whose business career includes twice receiving a Chief Executive Officer of the Year Award, said of all the recipients, “Each of you deserve the respect and thanks from our entire community. You are leaving an indelible, positive mark on the people of this community.”