Golden grads: Education alumni honored with annual teaching awards

Glance through the credentials of the annual Golden Apple Award recipients, and there’s a good chance you’ll see UW-Green Bay — again and again.

University alumni traditionally have been well represented among those receiving the prestigious teaching accolades, and 2012 was no exception. Of the honorees in seven categories, three have UW-Green Bay ties — either they graduated from the University or came back to boost their already impressive teaching cred with additional certification.

“I think it’s a great honor,” said Tim Kaufman, chair of UW-Green Bay’s Professional Program in Education. “Something that we strive for is to produce excellent teachers — and when they get recognition for their excellence, that’s one of the highest tributes we can get as a program.”

The distinguished list of 2012 award winners includes relatively recent grads Vanessa Moran ’07, a third-grade teacher at Howard-Suamico’s Meadowbrook Elementary School; and Chris Hendricks ’05, who teaches fifth grade at Glenbrook Elementary School in Pulaski. Rounding out the group is Nancie Brennan, a graduate of the Professional Development Certificate program, a unique, individualized program for license renewal. The teachers were recognized for excellent teaching, as well as innovation — two critical elements of UW-Green Bay’s education experience.

“We’re always trying to push the envelope as far as innovation,” Kaufman said, “and produce future teachers that think outside the box.”

Encouraging that innovation starts quickly for UW-Green Bay education students, who say getting in the classroom early and often is a key part of their success. The real-world experience is unparalleled in its value, Hendricks said.

Chris Hendricks '05

I was in the classrooms right away, in my first semester,” said Hendricks, who also ran cross-country for the University. “From the time I got in until the time I graduated, I was in the classroom with some really excellent teachers.”

Hendricks’ experience parallels that of fellow honoree Vanessa Moran, a 2007 grad who will welcome her own student teacher for the first time this fall.

“From the honor of being nominated … to the complete and utter shock of wining the Golden Apple, every step along this journey can be traced back to my time at UWGB,” Moran said. “The high-quality classroom instruction coupled with the invaluable experiences in the field helped to mold me into the educator I am today.”

Vanessa Moran '07

The Golden Apple Awards, a program of the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce, has been recognizing greater Green Bay’s outstanding teachers for nearly two decades. Each recipient receives a cash award of $2,000 and is profiled in the Green Bay Press-Gazette and on WLUK, Fox 11 news. A banquet and awards ceremony, held this year on Wednesday, April 18, is televised live on Fox 11.

UW-Green Bay’s award-winners say they’re grateful for the experience and recognition. But they’re also thinking about what’s next — how best to serve students, both today and into the future.

“To know that I am not only touching the lives of my students, but also (my student teacher’s) future students, is something I do not take lightly,” Moran said. “In fact, as much as I enjoy teaching elementary school, I would like nothing more than to one day join the ranks of the professors at my alma mater.”

Golden grads
2012 Golden Apple winners with UW-Green Bay ties:
— Vanessa Moran ’07, third grade, Meadowbrook Elementary School, Howard-Suamico School District
— Chris Hendricks ’05, fifth grade, Glenbrook Middle School, Pulaski School District
— Nancie Brennan, Professional Development Certificate graduate, grades seven and eight Reading/Language Arts, Edison Middle School, Green Bay School District

For more on the winners …
See TV and newspaper multimedia coverage of the honorees and event.
Photos courtesy of the Green Bay Press-Gazette