Teachers do not always receive the proper recognition and support that they deserve for educating our youth and that is why the Golden Apple Teacher Recognition Program is so important. Twenty six years ago, Golden Apple was created to enhance public education by recognizing and rewarding excellence in teaching. Each year begins with an invitation to students, parents, teachers, administrators and the general public to nominate any public school teacher employed by The School District of Lee County who is making an extraordinary contribution to our students.
Since the program's inception, the Foundation has awarded 146 educators with the prestigious "Golden Apple." In September, the Foundation kicks off Golden Apple by sending each teacher in the School District of Lee County a carnation, a token of appreciation and recognition. It culminates with a black tie banquet attended by more than 700 and broadcast live on Comcast Channel 205, CenturyLink channel 15, and rebroadcast on WINK-TV. The Golden Apple Banquet is a celebration for the 100 highest ranking teachers in the selection process. More than 10,000 nomination formats were submitted by students and community members nominating over 2,300 educators.
The Golden Apple Selection Committee, made up of community and business leaders, is charged with the arduous task of selecting the Golden Apple Recipients. They begin the process by reading each application and narrowing the field to 30 Finalists. The next step is for each member of the Selection Committee to observe each Finalist in his or her classroom and to conduct a private, professional interview. After hours of observation and interviews, the Selection Committee chooses six teachers as recipients of the Golden Apple Award. The six Golden Apple recipients are made "Guests of Honor" at the Annual Recognition Dinner at Harborside Event Center. The additional Finalists and Teachers of Distinction are also honored at the Golden Apple Banquet for excellence in teaching.
Twenty-six years ago the Golden Apple Teacher Recognition Program was created with the objective of recognizing and elevating the status of teachers and the teaching profession in Lee County. It was the initial program of the Foundation for Lee County Public Schools, which had just been formed. The Program was conceptualized and led by Linda and Bob Taylor - to try to achieve several specific goals:
- A clear focus on teachers as the most important element in a child's learning and development
- Appreciation for the dedication and skills of teachers
- Enhanced respect and status for the teaching profession
- Community wide understanding of the importance of high quality education