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‘Golden Apple’ finalists named

By Staff | Jan 7, 2011

Thirty teachers from the Lee County School District received a surprise visit throughout the day Friday from a member of the Golden Apple Selection Committee and the Lee County Public Schools Foundation to inform them they were selected as one the finalists for the Golden Apple Teacher Recognition Program.
The first teacher to receive a surprise visit by Judy Weiner, a member of the Golden Apple Selection Committee, was 7th grade science teacher Sheryl Terepka at Challenger Middle School.
Weiner told the students that she was giving Mrs. Terepka a well deserved honor…she had “been selected as one of the 30 finalists for the Golden Apple Award.”
Terepka, along with the students started cheering after Weiner finished her announcement. Terepka went on to whistle her excitement at being chosen as a finalist.
“Very nice,” she said. “How exciting is that!”
The next surprise visit was for eighth grade science teacher Barbara Rebeor.
Weiner told the students that “this is really a special honor.”
After Rebeor heard she was one of the 30 finalists she walked around hugging everyone with a smile that lit up the room.
“What a huge honor,” she said. “This is very exciting.”
Rebeor said the recognition for the school and kids is phenomenal.
Challenger Middle School Principal Teri Cannady said it is very exciting that two of her science teachers were among the finalists chosen for the Golden Apple Award. She said it would be great if both of them were one of the six Golden Apple winners.
Weiner said it is rather extraordinary to have two finalists chosen in one school due to the blind process the 13 committee members go through to select the 30.
The committee members were provided a disc with 296 applicants they had to read through.
Weiner explained that they were not provided with the teacher’s name or school when reading the applicants, so it would remain an anonymous process.
“It’s a clear, transparent process,” she said.
Each applicant was accompanied by a number, so they could rank them on a scale from one to four.
She explained that one meant the teacher “knocked your socks off” and four meant “try again.”
The next phase of the award is observations, which will begin roughly around Jan. 24. All 13 committee members will visit all 30 classrooms to do a 15- to 20-minute observation while the teacher is teaching his or her class. After the observation, each committee member will then interview each finalist to choose the 2011 Golden Apple recipients.
Weiner visited three schools Friday afternoon to surprise teachers at Pelican Elementary School, Diplomat Middle School and Challenger Middle School. She explained that the committee was not provided with the names of the teachers until Friday.
She said she has enjoyed being a member of the committee for the past six years because she gets to watch good teaching.
“It’s a terrific experience,” Weiner said.
The recipients will be announced in March by surprise presentations in the teachers classroom and the Golden Apple Dinner will be held at Harborside Event Center on April 15. Each recipient will receive a $3,000 cash award, a “golden apple” and Golden Apple lapel pin designed by Mark Loren, along with a membership into the Academy of Teachers. The schools of the Golden Apple teachers will receive a $500 grant.
“It is so special,” Weiner said about the dinner. “It is made to be important for the teachers.”
More than 15,000 Golden Apple Teacher nominations were received by the Foundation for Lee County Public Schools for the 24th annual Golden Apple Teacher Recognition Program in October. The majority of the 15,000 nominations were duplicates for the same teachers.
A total of 2,008 teachers were nominated for the Golden Apple Award out of 4,985 teachers in the school district.
Since the Foundation for Lee County Public Schools was established in 1986, it has provided 128 teachers in Lee County with the Golden Apple Award.