2023 Golden Apple Award Finalists, 2023 Golden Apple Award Recipients

Miranda Thompson

Miranda Thompson of Machesney Park has taught for 17 years (K, 1, 2, 3 and 5). She’s been at Parker Center the past 12 years, where she teaches Kindergarten. As a parent and a teacher, she knows, “Kindergarten is such an exciting year, but it is also very scary for many parents”! She strives to connect individually not just with each student, but also parents. This allows her to both celebrate achievements and to brainstorm about challenges together. Several parents nominated her. One wrote, “We could not have asked for a better teacher than Mrs. Thompson to help make the transition to kindergarten a positive experience. Creating a wonderful learning environment is just the beginning. Mrs. Thompson has gone above and beyond to ensure our son is content in her classroom. Several mornings, he went into school upset because he gets homesick. Mrs. Thompson let us know he is adjusting well. She makes learning fun and interactive and embraces each individual’s strengths. Mrs. Thompson is an exemplary example of how a teacher’s job is so much more than just teaching academics. We could not be more grateful that our son was lucky enough to get Mrs. Thompson as his kindergarten teacher. Not only does he adore her, but we do too.” Miranda doesn’t take off her teacher cap when she comes home from school, either. After work, she’s “thinking about whether my student remembered to bring their snow boots home, or whether their lost tooth made it home safely for the tooth fairy.” She also knows “at five or six years old, learning will not take place without basic needs being met.” She saves breakfast for one student; she’s a check-in check-out facilitator for a student with challenging behavior; she serves on the school’s Sunshine and Beautification Committees; and she mentors new or aspiring teachers. She wants to help everyone “show success and grow to their fullest potential.” Observers to Miranda’s classroom were impressed with the endless variety of teaching techniques she uses including a smart board, computers, singing and dancing, acting, paperwork as well as individual or group work, all of which kept students engaged and eager to respond. Principal Erin Anderson says Miranda, “truly understands the importance of balancing Social Emotional Learning with academics” and “regardless of the age of the students she is working with, her classroom is a place where students feel valued and appreciated for who they are.” Paige Yeoman, who started working with Miranda in 2018 as a classroom facilitator, planned to go to nursing school, but because of Miranda, she decided instead to major in Early Childhood Education. “Her love for teaching and her students inspired me to be an educator myself.”