By Tori Wittenbrock
BROWN COUNTY – Each year, an evening is set aside to highlight the above-and-beyond efforts of teachers and teaching teams throughout Brown County. The 29th annual Golden Apple Awards, hosted by Greater Green Bay Chamber, was held April 20, at the Radisson Hotel and Conference Center to again extend those honors. “It is inspiring to see our community gather to recognize so many high-quality educators,” Eric Vanden Heuvel, the Chamber’s vice president of Talent and Education, said. Vanden Heuvel said the annual event recognizes educators for their role in shaping the futures of their students. Five hundred people were in attendance for the fully in-person event April 20, including finalists and recipients, school superintendents, principals, Chamber staff and friends and colleagues of the nominated and selected teachers. “We always appreciate what they do for our students, but it is wonderful to celebrate them publicly,” Vanden Heuvel said. Each recipient was introduced by emcee Michelle Melby from Fox 11, which was followed by a short video presentation highlighting their accomplishments. Winning teachers were selected through a multi-level screening of applications and personal interviews and were surprised with the notification of their selection during the week of Feb. 22.
This year’s recipients honored April 20 were: • Cora Blackburn of Glenbrook Elementary School, Pulaski • Mark Bonetti of Preble High School, Green Bay • Weeya Calif of Foxview Intermediate School, De Pere • Mary Handrich of Denmark High School • Minerva Salas Escamilla of Nicolet Elementary School, Green Bay • Lauren Schumacher of Luxemburg-Casco High School • Char Wilson of Pulaski Community Middle School • Tom Barnhart, Jeremie Meyer and David Stroud of the Ashwaubenon High School Technology Education team The 2022 Golden Apple recipients ranged from elementary teachers to high school agriculture teachers, each selected from a pool of thousands of nominees. “When I was in fifth grade, my sister was diagnosed with cancer,” Blackburn said. “It took an incredible teacher to get me through my most challenging days. He did this by building positive relationships with the students. So to all educators, make the time to get to know what makes each of your students unique. It will never be time wasted.” Handrich said being an ag teacher is not something she takes for granted. “I chose to be an ag teacher, and every day I have the opportunity to provide my students with lessons and skills for life. Teaching agriculture is a fun and rewarding career. To my current and former students – thank you for giving me the opportunity to be your teacher, mentor and friend. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your journey.” Teacher Teams and Teachers of Distinction, educators that received high ratings during the first round of the selection process were also recognized at the event. “The Greater Green Bay Chamber is honored to have the opportunity to recognize teachers and celebrate their passion and commitment,” President and CEO of Greater Green Bay Chamber Laurie Radke said. Next year, in celebration of the awards’ 30th anniversary, the Golden Apple Awards ceremony will be held in the Lambeau Field Atrium on April 19, 2023. The Golden Apple Awards began in Green Bay, started in 1993 by long-time Green Bay resident and businessman Donald Long Sr. as a way to recognize and honor local educators.
By Tori Wittenbrock