Winners of the 2022-23 Golden Apple Awards Announced; Award Ceremony to Be Led by New Golden Apple Chair

Winners of the 2022-23 Golden Apple Awards Announced; Award Ceremony to Be Led by New Golden Apple Chair

After sifting through nearly 800 nominations, the Golden Apple Selection Committee has chosen the Golden Apple Award recipients for the 2022-23 school year. Each year, Albemarle County Public Schools (ACPS), Charlottesville City Schools, and local independent schools come together to recognize outstanding teachers for their dedication to teaching and leading area pupils. Starting in early January, members of the local school communities nominate educators who create a love of learning in their students, stimulate thought and provoke student dialogue, challenge students to reach high standards, understand the individual needs of students, and involve families in the learning process.

“It has always been of the utmost importance to me to recognize our teachers for the hard work they do in supporting and instructing our future generations of leaders,” said Richard Nunley, the former president of Better Living Building Supply and Cabinetry. “As a community, we have tasked our teachers with instilling a love of lifelong learning and creativity within our children. It is now our turn to thank them for taking on that task,” he said.

Sponsored by Better Living Building Supply and Cabinetry for more than 20 years, the Golden Apple has celebrated outstanding teachers by shining a spotlight on their hard work and dedication. As part of the celebration, the company provides each recipient with a $500 grant for use in their classroom.

“The recognition exemplified by the Golden Apple Awards serves as a reminder of the appreciation our community holds for teachers,” wrote Jessica Lucas, a past Golden Apple winner and teacher at Crozet Elementary School, in a thank you to the Nunley family, who started the program in 2002. “We do what we’re passionate about day in and day out because we care about our learners. Being supported in our efforts with such a generous award supports our passion and keeps us going,” Lucas continued.

The 2022-23 Golden Apple recipients will be honored at a ceremony on Wednesday, May 3, at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Performing Arts Center located at Charlottesville High School, 1400 Melbourne Road, Charlottesville. Beginning with a reception at 5:30 p.m., this year’s ceremony will be the first led by Golden Apple Selection Committee Chair, Steve Koleszar, who served for more than 20 years on the Albemarle County School Board representing the Scottsville Magisterial District.

In 2016, Mr. Koleszar was named by the Virginia School Boards Association as its Education Advocate of the Year and was recognized for his service by the Virginia General Assembly. He succeeds Dr. Kevin Castner, a former ACPS Superintendent who chaired the committee from the program’s beginning and who announced his retirement from the post a year ago.

“I am thrilled to be able to help celebrate our area teachers in this way,” Koleszar said. “During my tenure with the Albemarle County School Board, it was always my goal to raise our expectations for student performance. It would be impossible to meet this goal without the quality educators who continue to serve our students, and it is my distinct honor to be able to recognize the work they do,” he added.

Koleszar is joined on the selection committee by Albemarle County Public Schools representative Karen Marcus; Charlottesville City Schools representatives Brenda Payne, Lisa Utz, and Sylvia Elder; Blue Ridge Uniserv representative Bekah Saxon; Blue Ridge School Dean of Faculty, Amber Wilkins; and African American Teaching Fellows Executive Director, Tamara Dais.

In addition to Koleszar, guest speakers at this year’s ceremony will include Charlottesville City Schools Superintendent, Dr. Royal Gurley; University of Virginia School of Education and Human Development Dean, Dr. Stephanie Rowley; ACPS Assistant Superintendent of Organizational Development, Dr. Clare Keiser; Charlottesville City Schools Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Katina Otey; Charlottesville Catholic School Principal, Vada Fallica; and ACPS Superintendent, Dr. Matthew Haas.

ACPS teachers earning Golden Apples include:

  • Sara Hahn, Agnor-Hurt Elementary
  • Mary Montalbine, Albemarle High
  • Kimberly Geer, Baker-Butler Elementary
  • Brittany Ham, Broadus Wood Elementary
  • Jacqueline Simounet, Brownsville Elementary
  • Christina Pearman, Burley Middle
  • Heather Schmidt, Center I
  • Rebecca Hostetter, Community Lab School
  • Barbara Huneycutt, Crozet Elementary
  • Lori Alridge, Greer Elementary
  • Lydia Beeler, Henley Middle
  • Anna Shaner, Hollymead Elementary
  • Carrie Carter, Journey Middle
  • Tabatha Myers, Lakeside Middle
  • Nancy Ealy, Meriwether Lewis Elementary
  • Robert Ayres, Monticello High
  • Steve Ivory, Mountain View Elementary
  • Jeffrey Vorberger, Murray Elementary
  • Sarah Rodgers, Red Hill Elementary
  • Timothy Decker, Scottsville Elementary
  • Jordan Black, Stone-Robinson Elementary
  • Elizabeth Seawell, Stony Point Elementary
  • Danielle Kauffman, Walton Middle
  • Zoe Padron, Western Albemarle High
  • Diane Gibbs, Woodbrook Elementary

Charlottesville City Schools teachers earning Golden Apples include:

  • Charlotte Nelson, Buford Middle
  • Carol Busching, Burnley-Moran Elementary
  • Jessica Carter-Payne, CATEC
  • Mason Goldman, Charlottesville High
  • Gabriela Moore, Clark Elementary
  • Teresa Seto, Greenbrier Elementary
  • Maegan Thim, Jackson-Via Elementary
  • Jillian Smith, Johnson Elementary
  • Melvin Grady, Lugo-McGuinness Academy
  • Suzanne Harris, Venable Elementary
  • Erika Trent, Walker Upper Elementary

Teachers from independent schools earning Golden Apples include:

  • Hampton Kennedy, Blue Ridge School
  • Christi Martin, Charlottesville Catholic School
  • Karen Zimmerman, The Covenant School
  • Jessica Landseadel, Miller School of Albemarle
  • Susan Kennedy, Mountaintop Montessori School
  • Sabrina de Brito, St. Anne’s-Belfield School
  • Sarah Gillespie, Tandem Friends School

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