By Terri Ferguson Smith / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Meridian Star
As the beginning of school approaches, teachers and students are preparing to return to the classroom and a group of education supporters is ready to begin the second year of the Golden Apple Award.
Golden Apple Awards provide recognition to one teacher each month, for 10 months and a teacher of the year. The awards are spearheaded by The Meridian Family of Stations, which includes CBS 24, NBC 30, and Fox 30; and The Meridian Star.
Michael Reed, owner/operator of The Meridian Family of Stations, is enthusiastic about the second round of awards.
"This is the best program I've been involved with in my 30 year television career," Reed said. "I've been involved with 38 different TV stations in all areas of the country and this is the best program I've ever seen for the TV station, for the community and for education."
Supporting the program is a way of showing teachers how much they are valued, according to Tim Holder, publisher of The Meridian Star.
"Education is very important to our community. As we know, if we are going to attract jobs, attract people who want to live here and have a better way of life, we need to promote education," Holder said. "This is a very good way to show and highlight good teachers in this area."
Holder remembered one teacher in particular who helped him in the second grade at St. Francis School in Vicksburg.
"Mrs. Tuccio was a disciplinarian but she also pushed us," Holder said. "Because she pushed us, I really did try. I struggled at that time in math and in reading but she pushed us to the end and it was a positive experience. It let me know what I could do if I applied myself and it let me know the value of school."
Teachers like Mrs. Tuccio, he said, should know that they are valued.
"They need to know that their students, their former students, parents of their students, people in this community appreciate everything that they do. They are a key part of helping to raise our kids."
For the Golden Apple Award, each month nominations are solicited and a panel of judges considers the nominations after the teachers' names, and the names of the schools have been removed.
Nominations can be submitted by parents, faculty, or community members, as well as past and present students. Candidates must be a current, full-time, faculty member in a public or private school system who is working within the following counties: in Mississippi — Lauderdale, Neshoba, Kemper, Clarke, or Newton counties. In Alabama — Choctaw or Sumter counties.
The nomination process consists of an essay of no more than 500 words detailing why the person should be considered for the Golden Apple Award. The teacher of the month will be recognized in a surprise ceremony and will receive a prize package and a cash award.
The program will operate as it did last year, Reed said.
"The only changes are the fact that the program is more widely known and more people are aware that they have the opportunity to nominate a teacher worthy of the recognition," Reed said. "Please get busy nominating now as we will begin the selection process for the August Teacher of the Month in the next few weeks."
Reed added that even if a nominated teacher is not selected, they will still receive a note letting them know that someone thought enough of their good work that they nominated them for consideration.
The title sponsor is the Meridian Area Credit Unions, which includes MUNA Federal Credit Union, First Mississippi Federal Credit Union, and Meridian Mutual Federal Credit Union. Key sponsors are the Meridian Family of Stations, The Meridian Star, East Mississippi Electric Power Association, Richard Schwartz and Associates, Woodstock Furniture, Georgia Pacific, Mississippi Power, LA-Z-Boy, Mississippi State University-Meridian, Southern Pipe and Supply, Meridian Community College; and Avery. Participating sponsors are Meridian Coca Cola Bottling Company, Newell Paper and Hilton Garden.
Reed described the reception of the program as incredible.
"I get the most comments at church, at events, in the mall or while grocery shopping from the community about what a great program this is," Reed said. "I'm glad they agree. It is a great program that puts a spotlight on education and on the deserving teachers that make a difference in the lives of our students."
Specific details and an entry form are on meridianstar.com and wgbctv.com . Those interested in nominating a teacher should go to either of the websites, and click on the Golden Apple logo.