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30 Lee County teachers become Golden Apple finalists

Lee's annual teacher awards program picks its nominees.

Jan. 10, 2013
Ida S. Baker finalist, Deanna Hasty, waves Wednesday at the throng of surprise guests.
Ida S. Baker finalist, Deanna Hasty, waves Wednesday at the throng of surprise guests. / Sarah Coward/

Whatís Next

ē Golden Apple selection committee members will visit each of the 30 finalists in school to examine their performance over the next six weeks.
ē The six Golden Apple recipients will be announced in March with surprise presentations. The schools of the six teachers will receive $500 grants. The Golden Apple teachers will receive a $3,000 cash award and membership in the Lee County Academy of Teachers.
ē The 2012 Golden Apple Teacher Recognition Banquet is April 5 at Harborside Event Center.


Lee County Golden Apple Finalists

1. Amy Mayer, Allen Park Elementary

2. Barbara Rebeor, Challenger Middle

3. Karen Green, Challenger Middle

4. Karen Huston, Heights Elementary

5. Sondra Best, Heights Elementary

6. Patrick Hanrahan, Ida S. Baker High

7. Fernando Vazquez, Ida S. Baker High

8. Shane Appledorn, Ida S. Baker High

9. Deanna Hasty, Ida S. Baker High

10. Susan Hassett, Robinson Littleton Elementary

11. Robert Schalmo, Villas Elementary

12. Joelle Beverly, Bayshore Elementary

13. Morgan Wright, J. Colin English

14. Allen Dyen-Shapiro, Island Coast High

15. Joseph Mallon, Island Coast High

16. Linda Grant, Patriot Elementary

17. Quinn Schnabel, Diplomat Middle

18. Mara Exposito, Diplomat Elementary

19. Jamie McGougan, North Fort Myers Academy for the Arts

20. Gwen Gregg, North Fort Myers High

21. Tonia Petro, Skyline Elementary

22. Barbara Winitzer, Skyline Elementary

23. Katie Donohue, Trafalgar Middle

24. Gwynetta Gittens, East Lee County High

25. Kerri Toscano, Gateway Elementary

26. Shandra Backens, Harns Marsh Elementary

27. Sara Kohlhauff, Pinewoods Elementary

28. Miriam Sutton, Three Oaks Elementary

29. Marjan Schoettelkotte, Treeline Elementary

30. Kimberly Stinson, Veterans Park Academy for the Arts



Thatís how Karen Green, an eighth-grade math teacher at Challenger Middle School, described her feelings after learning Tuesday morning she was a finalist for a Golden Apple award.

"Itís my first nomination. My stomach is just churning, Iím so thrilled," she said.

Green is one of 30 Lee County teachers who were notified Wednesday about the honor.

One of Greenís students wasnít surprised to learn that his teacher was in the running for a Golden Apple.

"Sheís by far the best math teacher in Lee County," said Kesnel Mere, 13.

Greenís math and teaching skills will have to be top of the line, especially since she and the other 29 finalists will have to impress a panel of Foundation for Lee County Schools Golden Apple selection committee members in the next six weeks for one of six spots. The selection committee is made up of 12 Lee County business and community leaders.

The committee chose the 30 teachers from more than 5,000 nominations submitted by students, parents and the community, said Marshall Bower, executive director of the Foundation.

Each of the finalists received a $300 classroom grant and will participate at the Golden Apple Teacher Recognition Banquet in April. Itís a great achievement for teachers to make it to this point of the selection process, Bower said.

"We want to see how do they make learning fun, how do they engage the classroom," said Bower. "Are they representative of all great teachers?"

When it comes to engaging students, Green is doing something right, said Challenger Middle Principal Teri Cannady.

"She does tutoring after school and has 20 kids staying on a regular basis for help," said Cannady. "If thereís one teacher with a true connection to her kids, itís her."

For every teacher who received the news during class time about the honor, there were principals and students eager to see them win a Golden Apple.

Ida S. Baker Principal Melissa Robery was excited to get the news out to her teachers and staff after learning the school became the first in Lee County to have four Golden Apple finalists in one year.

"Itís amazing," Robery said. "Iím so proud of the staff and school. Iím so privileged to work with educators who put kids first."

Robery said sheís hoping the odds are in her schoolís and teachersí favors when it comes to landing a Golden Apple.

One of the Baker teachers, Fernando Vazquez, could become the second half of a Golden Apple couple. His wife, Lisa, who is the athletic director at the school, won a Golden Apple in 2010.

"Iím very surprised," said Fernando Vazquez.

Vazquez knew guests would be arriving in his class, but he didnít expect to hear he was a Golden Apple nominee for a third time.

"It would be amazing and a lot of fun to be a Golden Apple couple," said Lisa Vaquez. "Teaching is our passion."

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