CLAY COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) - There is an inspirational quote that says 'everyone who remembers his own education remembers teachers...not the methods and techniques. The teacher is the heart of the educational system."
WTHI-TV believes strongly in that philosophy. That's why we honor five teachers every year who are considered 'golden' by their students and peers.
The pandemic meant schools shut down early last year, so we could not present the Golden Apple Awards in April like we normally do. But we did manage to surprise five teachers once school began this fall.
We surprised the teachers this year outside, with masks on.
Our first teacher is from Clay County. Her name is Stephanie Nuckols. When we showed up at North Clay Middle School, the teacher was so shocked she didn't even take the award from us.
Nuckols will tell you her mission is to make English fun. She works very hard getting her 8th graders at North Clay Middle School ready for high school. She works to make her lesson plans something they can relate to and use in life.
"We did a lesson on writing an email and I said you have no idea how important this lesson is that I'm teaching because you're going to use it from now all the way to being an adult and you need to sound professional and it needs to be grammatically correct," Nuckols told us.
She says she makes a point to speak to every student in her classroom, and you'll often find her greeting kids in the hallway.
"It's so important to reach these kids and let them know that someone cares. Many of my students don't know where their next meal is um they're not getting the parental support for making their high school schedule or making decisions like that and from day one I try and make those connections with them and that they know for those 8 hours you're here I'm your family," Nuckols said.
She has been teaching for nearly 20 years, but only the last four at North Clay. She's clearly made a lasting impression in a short time.
"I would like to take a slice of my Golden Apple and give each one of them a slice because it's not me it's that I've had amazing kids that want to learn and they want to have a relationship with me...I'm getting emotional again...I just love my kids!" Nuckols told us.
She cares so much about her students, she couldn't let her 8th graders leave during a pandemic without a proper send-off. She organized a drive-by graduation of sorts.
It was a way to hug her students one final time before sending them off to high school.
"I must have made a difference somehow and if I can have every kid that enters my door grow either as a reader, grow as a writer, grow as a speaker, but more importantly grow as a person..then that's going to fuel my fire the rest of the way out," Nuckols told us.
Our next Golden Apple will take us across state lines.