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Three Cape teachers among Golden Apple winners

By Staff | Mar 13, 2010

Six Lee County teachers won Golden Apples on Friday for their outstanding work in the classroom.
Three of the winners — Nancy Loughlin from Island Coast High, Kathryn McKinnon from Trafalgar Middle, and Lisa Vazquez from Mariner High — teach in Cape Coral schools.
Winners receive a Golden Apple, a cash award worth $3,000, a golden apple lapel pin, membership in the Academy of Teachers, and they are invited to the recognition dinner at Harborside Event Center on April 16.
Loughlin, a grade 10 Language Arts teacher, is in her first year at Island Coast High even though she’s taught in Lee County for a total of seven years. Principal G. Peter Bohatch asked her to move from Lehigh Senior High to start a writing program at the new high school in north Cape Coral.
“To be honest, it was quite overwhelming,” said Loughlin. “I’m still absorbing the whole thing. I am definitely pleased, not only for me but for the students.”
She described her own teaching style as “unusual,” and she tries to use real text from the real world to thematically teach writing through fashion articles, film, music, and current events, as well as classic literature and poetry. This week her classes began studying clips from thrillers like “Jaws” or “Psycho” to learn how to write suspenseful prose.
An eight-year veteran of Trafalgar Middle, Kathryn McKinnon teaches eighth grade science which includes both physical and chemical science. She was “shocked, but very excited” when nearly 50 people surprised her during class with the award.
“Like every teacher I put my heart and soul into my work,” she said. “I am addicted to science and maybe my addiction is obvious. Middle school is a tough age for kids and to see them have something really exciting going on makes me emotional.”
McKinnon pointed out that she has reached out to the community over the years to stress the importance of education. She has written for and appeared on local media outlets, and tries to talk to parents about helping their kids succeed in school.
Mariner High drafting and engineering teacher Lisa Vazquez has been a teacher for 20 years but became a Triton three years ago. She was also shocked at winning a Golden Apple and said she was proud that “everything I tried to do is sinking in.”

The high school recently created its new Math, Science and Technology Academy and Vazquez said she teaches both academy and non-academy students. Mariner is also rebuilding its engineering department to apply what students learn to the real world.
“It is an incredible opportunity as a technology education teacher because it shines a spotlight on what we do and we try to bridge the gap between math, science and English by providing the kids the opportunity to apply what they are learning in their academic courses,” said Vazquez.