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Get to Know Our 20 Finalists!
Heather Plourde has been a teacher at Hononegah High School for 10 years. She teaches 10th-12th grade Health and 9th grade Physical Education. The nomination submitted by a fellow teacher said, “Mrs. Heather Plourde is an incredible teacher. I have had the pleasure to have her as a co-worker for eight years. In that time, I have been able to observe her in thousands of teaching situations. She is a force for change in the building and is always looking for ways to improve her teaching and the environment in the building for both students and staff. Mrs. Plourde frequently has a powerful positive effect on the students in her class and the entire school community. She will be there for students in crisis, struggling or as a mentor for a student that wishes to become an educator themselves. Mrs. Plourde is a dynamic teacher; she is creative and passionate about her profession. She has a desire to make the educational environment better and more effective for everyone.” Heather summed up one of goals by stating, “My passion for teaching drove me to provide [Health 2 course] to students to ensure they become productive health literate citizens and are able to contribute to their own family and community as adults. If my students end up living successful and fulfilling lives, I feel there is no greater measure of success as an educator.”

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Get to Know Our 20 Finalists!
Danielle Turner has been teaching for 11 years, but just one year with Belvidere High School, where she teaches ninth grade Health Education. In her portfolio, she says, “…commitment to my teaching is just as important as commitment to my students. The promise I bring to my classroom such as preparation of lessons and assignments, constructive comments on projects and tests, respect as individuals, and the willingness to get to know each and every one of my students in and outside of the classroom are just a few examples of how I show my pledge to my students on a daily basis. I want my students to know that I am approachable, that they feel comfortable coming to me with a question and knowing I will not judge them and that they can gain trust in me. By creating an inviting environment and positive rapport with my students, it has helped to motivate my students to want to learn instead of being forced to learn.” “My commitment to my students goes beyond the classroom, however, as I believe being involved in the school community is just as important.” “I do not do what I do for thanks or congratulations, but instead to see my students walk across the stage four years from now accomplishing things they did not think they could and going on to fulfill dreams we talked about as a freshman in my class. I do what I do to save students from following the wrong paths, to keep them from harming their bodies and from giving up on themselves. I am dedicated to fulfilling my job as an educator to never give up on any one of my students.”

Get to Know our 20 Finalists!
Kent Holden has been teaching at Maria Montessori Elementary for four years, though he has been a teacher for many years. On her nomination form, a female student shared, “He always finds a way to make learning new things fun. I was always engaged in his lessons. His classroom was welcoming and friendly. Mr. Holden deserves this award. Because of him, math is now my best and favorite subject.” Kent says that, while being nominated for the Golden Apple is an honor, it is even more special because he was nominated by past students. “Outside of my family, those I care about most in the world are my students. We work hard together. We help each other learn, and in the process, children begin emerging into young adults. I love being a key part of that process. Students show me their respect, and they have earned mine. My greatest reward is to see them excel. I am proud and grateful to have worked with so many wonderful, compassionate, and accomplished leaders. Their enthusiasm makes me eager to get to work each day.”