In an Unusual Year for Instruction, More Than 1,700 Golden Apple Nominations Were Submitted; Awards Will Honor 40 County, City & Private School Teachers

Golden Apple Logo

There’s something very special about the Golden Apple Awards program in this, its 20th year. During a time when the pandemic required the most from teachers, teacher dedication and support for their students reached new heights. The Albemarle County and Charlottesville City communities responded in dramatic fashion. In place of the 100-150 nominations usually put forth by families to recognize individual teacher excellence, more than 1,700 nominations were received this year.

The program was designed two decades ago to honor one teacher from each public and private school in the county and city for demonstrated excellence in the classroom, innovative instructional strategies and techniques, and involvement in their local community. Judges look for evidence that teachers are stimulating thought and dialogue among students; understanding and meeting the needs of students with determination, enthusiasm and imagination; and involving families in the education process.

Teacher nominations for Golden Apple Awards come from students, parents, colleagues, and members of the community. The educators selected for the award represent less than 2% of all teachers in Albemarle County and Charlottesville City public and private schools.

Since its inception, the Golden Apple program has been sponsored by Better Living Building Supply & Cabinetry. The company’s chairman, Mr. Richard Nunley, often has talked about the impact of exceptionally talented and caring teachers on their students. In fact, he married one of them. His wife, Judy, taught at Clark Elementary School in the city.

“Teachers nurture the inquisitive minds of our young people, unleashing creativity, entrepreneurship, problem-solving, and most of all, lifelong learning. Not only does the student grow in their capabilities, but communities prosper as well,” Nunley said.

Teachers from 40 different schools will be honored during an online program that will be livestreamed at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, June 23. Guest speakers for the event include the Superintendent of Albemarle County Public Schools, Dr. Matthew Haas, and Charlottesville City Schools’ Chief Academic Officer, Katina Otey. Family members, friends, and members of the public can watch the 2020-21 Golden Apple Awards Ceremony live at

Presenting the awards will be retired superintendent of Albemarle County Public Schools, Dr. Kevin Castner, who once again chaired the selection committee. Other committee members include Karen Markus, a retired administrator for Albemarle County Public Schools; Rhonda Angel, who has served on the county’s Parent Council; Summerlyn Thompson, the principal of Johnson Elementary School in Charlottesville City; and Bekah Saxon of Blue Ridge UniServ, a local non-profit that works with educators to improve and protect teaching and learning conditions in Central Virginia’s public schools.

Each recipient receives a brass, gold-plated replica of an apple with their name and a grant of $500 to be used for a future classroom program or activity.

Golden Apples earned by Albemarle County teachers include:

  • Brittany Mullinex, Agnor-Hurt Elementary School
  • Charlotte Wood, Albemarle High School
  • Gabriel Gomez, Baker-Butler Elementary School
  • Meghann Wymer, Broadus Wood Elementary School
  • John Donnelly, Brownsville Elementary School
  • Lori Linville, Burley Middle School
  • Jackie Walker, CATEC
  • Amanda Blevins, Center I
  • Lori Phillips, Crozet Elementary School
  • Claire LaPlante, Greer Elementary School
  • Christine Booz, Henley Middle School
  • Shauna Hogg, Hollymead Elementary School
  • Kailyn Harris-Gilliam, Jouett Middle School
  • Dena LaFleur, Meriwether Lewis Elementary School
  • Jessica Eisenhauer, Monticello High School
  • Susan Borchers Zeanah, Mountain View Elementary School
  • Don Barnes, Lab School for Student Centered Learning
  • Courtney Dillard, Virginia L. Murray Elementary School
  • Sylvia Jenkins, Red Hill Elementary School
  • Morgan Wagoner, Scottsville Elementary School
  • Kelly Oehler, Stone-Robinson Elementary School
  • Sheller Bolton, Stony Point Elementary School
  • Samantha Forsythe, Sutherland Middle School
  • Douglas Bloor, Walton Middle School
  • Michael Shutt, Western Albemarle High School
  • Grace Dalton, Woodbrook Elementary School

Golden Apples earned by Charlottesville City teachers include:

  • Shinay Henderson, Buford Middle School
  • Kelsey Cox, Burnley-Moran Middle School
  • Matthew Terillo, Charlottesville High School
  • Amit Kapur, Clark Elementary School
  • Desiree Conner, Greenbrier Elementary School
  • Michel Anne Sizemore, Jackson-Via Elementary School
  • Michelle Schettler, Johnson Elementary School
  • Allison Shields, Venable Elementary School
  • Margaret Pfuntner, Walker Upper Elementary School

Golden Apples earned by private school teachers include:

  • Thomas Fickley, The Covenant School
  • Henry Clark, Tandem Friends School
  • Jim Douglas, Blue Ridge School
  • Lori Nicholson, St. Anne’s-Belfield School

Also, Denise Meyer, who teaches in the UVA Hospital Program, which serves students from both Albemarle County and Charlottesville City, is a Golden Apple recipient.

2020-21 Golden Apple Recipients (partial group photo)

CONTACT: Helen Dunn, Legislative and Public Affairs Officer
PHONE: 434-249-8379