More than 1,200 honor excellence in teaching at Golden Apple ceremony

Greg Kahn/Staff
Golden Apple recipient Sheila Snyder, right, is greeted by former student Princeton Ballarino, 13, after the 22nd Annual Golden Apple Celebration of Teachers at the Waldorf Astoria in Naples on Wednesday.

Photo by GREG KAHN, Naples Daily News // Buy this photo

Greg Kahn/Staff Golden Apple recipient Sheila Snyder, right, is greeted by former student Princeton Ballarino, 13, after the 22nd Annual Golden Apple Celebration of Teachers at the Waldorf Astoria in Naples on Wednesday.

It was a night of ball gowns, passion and praise as the community celebrated excellence in teaching at the Golden Apple ceremony on Wednesday.

The Education Foundation of Collier County honored the six Golden Apple teachers alongside the Collier County teachers of the year and teachers of distinction in a new ceremony that showcased the educators' talents in the classroom. This year, instead of giving a speech, each of the six educators was showcased teaching in their classroom in 10 minute documentary-style videos.

More than 1,200 people filled the at the Waldorf Astoria Naples ballroom to watch the vignettes and celebrate the teachers. Previous Golden Apple ceremonies were held at the Naples Philharmonic.

"She makes me smile," said student Nathan Portillo of his Golden Apple teacher Sheila Snyder. "She helps me know I can do anything I want."

Golden Apple teacher Eileen Schoenknecht, a nursing instructor at Lorenzo Walker Institute of Technology, was shown teaching students real-life patient care at NCH Downtown Naples hospital. She said receiving the award is an honor, especially after practicing as a nurse for 28 years.

"I'm privileged to teach to students who really want to learn nursing," she said of her adult students, many of whom have returned to the classroom in the hopes of starting a new career.

Student Amber McLallen said Schoenknecht "makes us feel confident and makes learning real."

Golden Apple teacher Darlene Crete of Lorenzo Walker Technical High urged the community to have faith in its students.

"If we value students, make them feel important, honor them," she said, "they will do great things."

Golden Apple winner Michal Durik, a Spanish teacher from Scotland, said education is a journey. He wants his students to not be afraid to take chances and practice what they learn.

"I don't care about mistakes," he said. "All I care about is, 'are you learning from it?'"

Durik said teaching is by far the most rewarding profession, although not financially.

"But you're not in it for the money," he said.

Each Golden Apple teacher was introduced by one of their students. Collier County School Board members and Collier schools Superintendent Kamela Patton escorted the Golden Apple winners in front of the packed audience.

The Golden Apple Celebration of Teachers will air on WINK-TV on May 5 at 7 p.m. and May 13 at noon. It will be replayed regularly between May 14 and June 10 on the Education Channel (Comcast Cable 99).

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