I found out last fall that I was nominated for a pretty special award, the Golden Apple, which is from a foundation local to Chicago. Even though I wasn't sure who nominated me, I applied, and found out in February that I had been named a finalist. Such an honor, I felt so thankful for that nomination, especially when I found out it was a former coteacher who I just adore. Those days teaching with her were some of my fondest memories of teaching. Thank you, Julia, for thinking of me this year!
On March 1st, two colleagues of Golden Apple visited my school. They met with my principal and assistant principal, and also panels of teachers, students, and parents. They spent over an hour in my classroom observing. As nervous as I was the night before (didn't sleep much) I was set right at ease when I met them. I had a great day, and so did all the people who participated on my behalf!
Following that, there was a brunch to honor the 33 finalists, a group selected from 600 nominations.
I heard from the founder that day, and really liked what he had to say about education. My big takeaway was that it's relationships that drives all the work we do, and I couldn't agree more. That's the best thing I love most about the work I am privileged to do each day.
For the past six months, I have been only sending positive energy at this possibility. I remember telling a friend a few months ago, "I don't want to get too excited, there's a bunch of amazing teachers in the running for this award," to which she responded, "No, Michelle. Envision it happening. Only think positive thoughts about it. Manifest this award that you are very deserving of!" Since that conversation, I have only been thinking that I would win, that Golden Apple would visit my classroom, a visit without my knowing, to tell me that I had become one of the ten fellows of their foundation.
So, when I got the call last week that I had not been named a Golden Apple Fellow, you can imagine the disappointment I felt. I thought back over the past few months, and really, until that moment, I hadn't thought that I wouldn't receive this prestigious opportunity.
That being said, I can't forget what an honor all of it is anyways. I was nominated - one of my peers thought I was good enough to be named golden. Then, my application essays created the opportunity for me to be part of a small group of finalists. People from the foundation spent a whole day with me and the people at Heritage. How amazing!
And so, even though I did not become a Golden Apple Fellow, I am still proud of the work I've done, not only this year, but in the 13 years prior. Work that led me to amazing relationships with awesome teachers, students, and parents, people who have taught me about myself and how to be a great teacher, peers who taught me to how live the most positive life, friends who shared an office with me or had a classroom down the hall who taught me ways to teach a child to read and love to write, colleagues who taught me the importance of consistency and compassion. Students who made me slow down, laugh, and have fun. Administrators who pushed me to be better today than I was yesterday.
All of that has brought me to be named me a Teacher of Distinction by Golden Apple, and will offer me an opportunity to collaborate with them in the future. I can't wait to find out more about this, and hope they don't mind if I continue to tweet to them, since they had me at their #teachgolden hashtag.
And just one last note to all those who cheered me on the past few months... the teachers who embraced me in the teacher's lounge, who high-fived me in the hallway or just shared a bright-eyed congrats... and to those teachers, students, and parents who showed up for me on March 1st, I continue to grow with all of you by my side. Thank you. xo.