2009 Golden Apple Awards
Meet the Collier County teachers honored
NAPLES — On the board at the front of Sheila Buckner’s classroom was a question posed to her students.
“What is Mrs. Buckner thinking about today?”
They may have guessed in vain in the morning, but by the end of the day each third-grader in Buckner’s class at Calusa Park Elementary School knew what was on her mind.
Her thoughts were on her Golden Apple.
“It was prefixes (before the Apple),” she said with a laugh.
The Education Foundation of Collier County spent Monday handing out its annual Golden Apple Awards, which are awarded to teachers who exhibit excellence in the classroom and a sense of their role in the community of learners in their schools.
Teachers were nominated by students, parents and community members in September. Once nominated, educators could send an application in to the selection committee for review.
The candidates were narrowed to 100 teachers who go through classroom observations by a selection committee. That team was responsible for choosing the 40 Teachers of Distinction.
The 40 Teachers of Distinction then go through an interview and a second round of observations after which the Golden Apple teachers are chosen.
“We wished we had 40 Golden Apples to give out,” said David Joseph, a member of the selection committee. “These teachers had that little something extra that made you walk out of the classroom and say, ‘Wow.’”
Each Apple teacher receives $2,000, an engraved Golden Apple and a basket of Golden Delicious apples for their classroom, among other things.
Clutching her Golden Apple in her hand, Buckner said teaching was the job she was meant to do.
“This is the job of my dreams. I am so happy to be a teacher,” she said.
Buckner, who has been a Teacher of Distinction before, said she is proud to be part of The Education Foundation’s program.
“The Foundation is amazing. The programs they offer are unbelievable. I am happy and proud to be part of this,” she said. “They support teachers.”
She said the best part of her job is watching her students figure out something she is trying to teach them.
“I love being with the kids,” she said.
Angela Cloonan, 8, said Monday was the “best day ever.”
“She encourages us to do better,” she said of why her teacher deserved the Golden Apple.
Buckner thanked her students for helping her win the apple.
“It’s not just me. We won,” she told her students.
■ Brent Brickzin
The third time was the charm for Brickzin. Already a Teacher of Distinction twice, Monday was his turn to have a bite at the apple.
“Thank you all very, very much. I am extremely excited. Not only for our school, but for my kids,” he told the crowd that appeared in his law studies class at 7:45 a.m. “I can’t believe this!”
Brickzin said receiving the apple was a “wonderful feeling.”
“It’s a wonderful recognition of the work we do,” he said. “I have a great support staff. And the kids — I have a great group of kids.”
Though he has been a teacher for eight years, this is only his second year as a high school teacher. He took the job because he wanted to teach social studies, he said.
Sophomore Jeff Michel, 15, said Brickzin deserves his apple.
“He is a great guy, a great teacher,” he said. “He makes it a lot easier to learn.”
■ Mia German
When she found out she was a Golden Apple teacher, German and her students jumped for joy.
“Oh my goodness! Thank you! My heart’s beating so fast, I’m shaking,” she said as her Apple was handed to her.
German, a kindergarten teacher at Pinecrest Elementary School in Immokalee, said she has the best job.
“I teach kindergarten. It’s wonderful,” she said.
She said she hopes her students find school a fun place to learn.
“These students have a lot to deal with,” she said. “When they come to school, I want to make it engaging for them.”
TaKerra James, 6, said German makes school fun.
“She lets you play cool games like basketball,” she said.
■ Anna Ruth Crouse
When Poinciana Elementary School Principal Susan Barcellino found out Crouse was a Golden Apple Teacher, she wasn’t surprised.
“She’s the real deal,” she said. “She is what teaching’s all about.”
Crouse said her Apple is for her students.
“This is a true accomplishment. They work hard and always strive to do their best,” she said. “They are our future right here.”
Crouse said her goal is to make a difference to her students.
“I want them to learn, not just how to read and write, but how to be lifelong learners,” she said.
Then, as if proving her point, Crouse turned back to her students and used her Golden Apple and their Golden Delicious apples as a way to teach measurement, asking them how they would measure each.
■ Stephanie Jonas
Receiving the Golden Apple was a family affair for Jonas, a Veterans Memorial Elementary School teacher. Her parents, her children and her niece were all present to see her surprised with the award.
As soon as she saw her father, Jonas’ eyes filled with tears.
“I did this for my dad,” she said. “He encouraged me to apply.”
Jonas’ father, Kurt Bossi, said he told his daughter that she would someday be a Golden Apple teacher.
“I told her it was a good opportunity. It is a great honor to be a Golden Apple winner,” he said. “I always knew she would get it. I just never thought it would come so soon.”
Jonas received her Apple on her first application. Becoming a teacher, however, was something she was destined to do.
“I used to torture my little sister and maker her play with Pooh Bear while I taught them,” she said. “I always wanted to be a teacher. I love learning from (my students).”
Sheila Bossi, Jonas’ mother who also works at Veterans Memorial Elementary School, said teaching has been her daughter’s calling.
“It’s overwhelming, but it is such an honor. We are so proud,” she said.
■ Teri Maroon
On Maroon’s board, it reads, “We are going to have a great day.”
She didn’t know how great it would be.
Maroon received her Golden Apple in the company of the other Golden Apple teachers who had come before her at Osceola Elementary School. Former recipient Joann Vukobratovich handed her a homemade torch.
“I am in such good company,” Maroon said, wiping away tears. “Collier County is the premier place to work. ... It is kids first. And I have wonderful colleagues who do what’s best for kids.”
Maroon said the best part of her job is seeing that spark in her students.
“Even though I might do the same thing day after day or year after year, every day it is fresh because I see it in a new way through the eyes of a child,” she said.
Principal Jody Jordan said the school was proud of Maroon.
“You represent all the great teachers at Osceola,” she said.
In addition to the awards Monday, the teachers will be honored, along with the other 34 Teachers of Distinction, at the 19th annual Celebration of the Golden Apple Teacher Awards on Tuesday, May 5, at the Philharmonic Center for the Arts in Naples.
The black-tie affair gives students, parents and the community the opportunity to recognize the teachers for their contributions. It also allows the six Golden Apple teachers to speak about their profession.
For more information or to purchase tickets, contact the Education Foundation at (239) 643-4755.
Meet the 2009 Collier County Golden Apple teachers:
■ Brent Brickzin
Experience: Eight years, two at Palmetto Ridge High School in Golden Gate Estates
Current position: Social studies (law) and community service
What does the Apple mean to you?: “It’s a wonderful recognition of the work we do. ... I am extremely excited. Not only for our school, but for my kids.”
■ Sheila Buckner
Experience: 10 years teaching, seven years at Calusa Park Elementary School in East Naples
Current position: Third grade
What does the Apple mean to you?: “I am happy and proud to be part of this. ... This is the job of my dreams. I am so happy to be a teacher.”
■ Anna Ruth Crouse
Experience: Eight years, five years at Poinciana Elementary School in Naples
Current position: Second grade
What does the Apple mean to you?: “I am receiving this Apple for my students. This is a true accomplishment (for them). They work hard and strive to do their best.”
■ Mia German
Experience: 17 years, seven at Pinecrest Elementary School in Immokalee
Current position: Kindergarten
What does the Apple mean to you?: “It feels wonderful. We work so hard. It is great that everyone sees what a wonderful class I have.”
■ Stephanie Jonas
Experience: Six years, two at Veterans Memorial Elementary School in North Naples
Current position: Fourth and fifth grade teacher
What does the Apple mean to you?: “I can’t put it into words. ... I have to thank my students. ... I love what I do. I have always wanted to be a teacher.”
■ Teri Maroon
Experience: 11 years, six years at Osceola Elementary School
Current position: First grade, English language inclusion
What does the Apple mean to you?: “I am in such good company. ... Collier County is the premier place to work. ... It is kids first. And I have wonderful colleagues who do what’s best for kids.”