Teachers and school staff members from throughout Upper Arlington were honored April 11-12 for their ability to educate and inspire students.
Upper Arlington Civic Association members made surprise visits to eight Upper Arlington Schools buildings and three private schools in the community to hand out the annual Golden Apple awards.
The awards have been given out by the nonprofit UACA each year since 1981, as the organization seeks to acknowledge dedication and special contributions of teachers and staff in the Upper Arlington community.
“All of the UACA events are for the Upper Arlington community and, in the case of Golden Apples, we are awarding those individuals that have dedicated their careers to the children of Upper Arlington,” Angela Lanctot, UACA Golden Apple Awards director. “Year after year, UACA directors repeatedly say how meaningful it is for them to participate in these presentations and to have the opportunity to recognize the limitless compassion and dedication of the nominees to Upper Arlington children.”
A 13th Golden Apple Award will be handed out to a local preschool teacher or staff member. Lanctot said the date for that presentation is to be determined.
Those honored April 11-12 were:
• Kelli Wilcox, a kindergarten teacher at Barrington Elementary
• Mary Rappaport, a paraprofessional at Greensview Elementary
• Angela Morway, a kindergarten teacher at Tremont Elementary
• Felice Kassoy, a guidance counselor at Wickliffe Elementary
• Jodi Palmer, a physical education teacher at Windermere Elementary
• Amanda Walton, a sixth-grade language teacher at Hastings Middle School
• Chris Lape, an orchestra teacher at Jones Middle School
• Leah Miller, a language arts teacher at Upper Arlington High School
• Todd Fessler, band director at UAHS
• Julia Redmond, a nurse at St. Agatha Catholic School
• Michele Faehnle, a nurse at St. Andrew School
• Emily Szabo, a second-grade teacher at The Wellington School
During the April 11 presentation to Miller, she fought back tears as UACA members poured into her classroom with the Golden Apple Award, flowers and balloons.
“I was as shocked during the presentation as my students were,” Miller said. “I love teaching because I love to learn.
“I go to work every day and explore ideas with my students while helping them learn how to read, write and think more critically. Teaching high school students is especially rewarding because the high school years are such an important time in students’ development – they ‘re figuring out who they are, and I love that I get to be a small piece of that process. “
Miller has taught at UAHS for 23 years. In addition to 17 years as a language arts teacher, she also spent six years as a career development / service-learning coordinator. She credited her students and the “smart, kind, hardworking UAHS teaching staff” for stoking the flames of her passion for teaching.
“I’ve always tried to build relationships with my students, as I’ve found it’s the best way to motivate and engage them with the course and the curriculum,” she said. “I’ve also tried to be student-centered in my classroom by listening to their needs and allowing student choice.
“It helps that I love my content and am excited to talk about literature and film with my students every day.”
Lape has taught for nine years, including the last five at Jones, and said he was “definitely surprised” to receive the award for performing a job he loves.
“I love teaching because I get to share music with others,” Lape said. “I love teaching because I get to watch students grow.
“I love teaching because I want to be a positive influence and role model. There’s nothing else like those ‘ah ha’ moments when students make a connection. I feel lucky that I get to be a part of that journey.”
Lape said he strives to “educate the whole child.”
“I want to build meaningful connections and relationships to help students grow as individuals and achieve their goals,” he said. “I want to instill a deep appreciation and love of music in my students.
“They are our future producers and consumers of music.”