Albemarle County Public Schools News Release:

(ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Virginia) – Teachers from 41 public and private schools in Albemarle County and Charlottesville City were honored last evening at the 17th annual Golden Apple Award ceremonies held in Lane Auditorium in the Albemarle County Office Building.

The teachers were selected for the award based upon demonstrated excellence in the classroom, their innovative instructional strategies and techniques, and their involvement in their local community. Nominations were made by students, parents, educators, and other members of the community. The 41 teachers who were selected for the award represent two percent of the more than 2,000 teachers in city and county public and private schools.

Since their inception, the awards have been sponsored by Better Living Building Supply & Cabinetry. The company’s chairman, Mr. Richard Nunley, often has talked about the impact that an exceptionally talented and caring teacher can have on the life of a student. Reading through this year’s nomination forms bears that out, with many teachers celebrated for their enthusiasm, energy, kindness, and ability to connect with students.

“Whenever I am visiting a classroom, kids are eager to talk about their teachers,” said Dr. Pamela Moran, Albemarle’s Superintendent. “They talk about teachers they love and why they love them. One student put it very well,” Dr. Moran said. “He told me his teacher teaches from the heart, not just from books.”

“The word is joy,” said Dr. Rosa Atkins, Superintendent of Charlottesville City Public Schools. “The teacher always will be the single most important influence on a child’s ability to open new windows of discovery. In reading the accolades these teachers have earned, you can feel the excitement they bring to their classroom,” she added.

Mr. Nunley said the Golden Apple program is 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 said.

In addition to receiving an all-brass golden apple, eight teachers, drawn by lottery, also received a $1,000 donation from Better Living Building Supply & Cabinetry for classroom programs next year. Those teachers were Hannah Baran from Albemarle High School; Emily Blasé, who teaches at Henley Middle School; Stone-Robinson’s Pam Dean; Monticello High School’s Jeremy Dove; Dan Dunsmore from the Blue Ridge School; Johnson Elementary School’s Laura Schaaf; TJ Steger from Walton Middle School; and Jessica Taylor, who teaches at Clark Elementary.

A select panel of educators and parents review all applications and make the Golden Apple selections based upon the criteria set by Better Living Building Supply & Cabinetry. The award recognizes teachers who create a love of learning among students of all backgrounds and abilities; involve families in the education process; understand and meet the individual needs of each student; and challenge students to reach high standards.

The selection panel this year included retired Albemarle County Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Kevin Castner, who co-chaired the panel with John Baldino, the retired co-chair of Blue Ridge Uniserve. Also on the panel from Blue Ridge Uniserve were Bekah Saxon and Jamie Bourland, who is the representative for the private schools. Jakki Crocker, a parent council representative from Charlottesville City, and Rhonda Angel, a parent council representative from Albemarle County, completed the panel’s membership.

Since the program began in 2002, more than 600 teachers have been recognized for their service to students and families in the Charlottesville and Albemarle communities. This year’s honorees include:

Lily Williams, Agnor-Hurt Elementary School

Hannah Baran, Albemarle High School

Melissa Sysling, Baker-Butler Elementary School

Dan Dunsmore, Blue Ridge School

Brittany Lindemann, Broadus Wood Elementary School

Jennifer McCartney, Brownsville Elementary School

Latoya Brown, Buford Middle School

Pete Fiddner, Jackson P. Burley Middle School

Briana Barns, Jackson-Via Elementary School

Mary Johnston, Burnley-Moran Elementary School

Marquez Mitchell, Paul H. Cale Elementary School

Karen Brown, CATEC

Michelle Banaszak, Charlottesville Catholic School

Nicole Carter , Charlottesville High School

Jessica Taylor, George Rogers Clark Elementary School

Bliss Webel, Community Public Charter School

Betsy Carter, Covenant School

Justin Stauffer, Crozet Elementary School

Hannah Handrich, Mary C. Greer Elementary School

Patrick Beale, Greenbrier Elementary School

Emily Blasé, Joseph T. Henley Middle School

Maria Ellis, Hollymead Elementary School

Rob Dent, Jack Jouett Middle School

Laura Schaaf, Johnson Elementary School

Max Hill, Lugo-McGuiness Academy

Meg Franco, Meriwether Lewis Elementary School

Sarah Taylor, Miller School of Albemarle

Jeremy Dove, Monticello High School

Jen Donalson, Virginia L. Murray Elementary School

Mary Kelly, Murray High School

Debbie Rondeau, Red Hill Elementary School

Michelle Valentino, Scottsville Elementary School

Jenny Kirkland, St. Anne’s Belfield School

Pamela Dean, Stone-Robinson Elementary School

Erin Owney, Stony Point Elementary School

Kate Syms, Mortimer Y. Sutherland Middle School

Leslie Hunter, Venable Elementary School

Sarah Lloyd, Walker Upper Elementary School

TJ Steger, Leslie H. Walton Middle School

Sandy Keyser, Western Albemarle High School

Jamela Jasper, Woodbrook Elementary School