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Golden Apple Awards for Outstanding Teaching

About the Golden Apple Awards

CCS Golden apple logo

Candidates for this award are teachers at any level (preschool through grade 12) and in any discipline who have demonstrated excellence in teaching and involvement in the community outside the school.

A nominee exhibits the following characteristics:

  • Creates a love of learning in students of all abilities and backgrounds.
  • Stimulates thought and provokes student dialogue.
  • Challenges students to reach high standards and expectations.
  • Understands the needs of students individually and collectively and meets those needs with determination, enthusiasm and imagination.
  • Involves families in the education process.

Winners receive a $500 grant for classroom materials or professional development. Sponsored by Better Living Building Supplies and Cabinetry.

2024 Winners

2024 Golden Apple Award Winners

  • Matthew Miller, CHS, Engineering Teacher
    • His nominator writes: “Every person in that class immediately felt how much he cared for each student and their education. He approaches teaching by encouraging students to figure it out for themselves and collaborate with each other rather than seeking answers from adults. This affects his students in all of their classes as that technique translates to other subject areas. He teaches not only his curriculum but also many fundamental skills
      necessary post-graduation.”
  • Alton Coleman, Buford, Science Teacher
    • His nominator writes: “He treats the children fair and well and follows through on necessary consequences. He helps us learn and focus by separating us from our friends when we are getting distracted.”
  • Harrison Cash, Walker, Sixth Grade Teacher
    • His nominator writes: “He finds ways to build background knowledge for all students, ensuring that no child is truly left behind. We have also been impressed by his level of communication. We feel a part of his classroom community and are invested in what our child is learning.”
  • Matt Richardson, CATEC, Auto Service Tech Teacher
    • His nominator writes: “Mr. Richardson is one of the most positive instructors I have met. While he grounds his approach in reality, he rolls with students' challenges, and does what it takes to support students no matter how they show up in his class. Mr. Rich is always searching to provide new experiences and skills for his students that he knows will be valuable in their future career.”
  • Teresa Amasia, Burnley-Moran Middle School, iSTEM Teacher
    • Her nominator writes, “She creates a safe space by encouraging all students to think critically and to cooperate with one another on problem-solving and various stimulating projects. Growth mindset and productive struggle is at the heart of her students’ learning and success!”
  • Madeline Hermsmeier, Clark, Kindergarten Teacher
    • Her nominator writes: “Ms. Hermsmeier's kindness and pride in her students' abilities shines through each and
      every day. She takes the time to listen to them share their thoughts and cheers them on when they reach new milestones. She takes the time to get to know each student individually and has helped them bond as a group.”
  • Kathryn Rogers, Greenbrier, Kindergarten Teacher
    • Her nominator writes: “As a parent, I appreciate that Ms. Rogers helps all kids to feel safe, loved, and successful. She communicates with caregivers frequently and invites families to participate in many ways. She creates magical experiences for her Kindergarten students. She also contributes to the school community and has been a champion in getting the courtyard to be a learning space for all students both by taking care of the physical space, but also by gathering educational materials to be used within the space.”
  • Rachel Lieb, Jackson-Via, First-Grade Teacher
    • Her nominator writes: “Ms. Lieb cares so much for her students and it shows. She strikes the perfect balance
      of celebrating each child while also creating growth opportunities based on their specific needs. She welcomes parental involvement in the classroom and is never too busy to spend extra time discussing a student’s progress. Ms. Lieb’s brilliant smile tells the story in every single picture of her with her students.”
  • Kelly Walters, Johnson, Health and P.E. Teacher
    • Her nominator writes: “She is dedicated to the health and wellness of Johnson students and engages them in exciting physical activities and important information students need to learn to be healthy and safe, both in body and mind. She loves her students and is an active part of their lives both in and outside of school. She communicates with families, drives students to school activities, delivers meals to families in need, and brings children into her family to celebrate them and care for them. She provides a safe and caring space for students in her gym and anywhere she goes.” 
  • Megan Greenwood, Venable, First Grade Teacher
    • Her nominator writes: “Ms. Greenwood embodies the qualities of a truly outstanding teacher. She exudes warmth, energy, and enthusiasm in her interactions with her students. Her deep emotional intelligence and remarkable ability to connect with children create a learning environment that is not only educational but also emotionally nurturing. Furthermore, Ms. Greenwood's appreciation for each child's unique gifts and special skills sets her apart as an exceptional teacher.”

Previous Golden Apple Award Recipients from Cville Schools


    2023 golden apple winners




    • Mason Goldman, English Teacher
      • Her nominator writes: “My student said after the first day with Ms. Goldman they had learned more in one day than in the previous 6 weeks. My recent graduate also had her for English at CHS and was a fantastic resource for college essay writing, even during the spring of 2020, when covid had pushed class online. She has taught every grade and level of English, and in each and every class she is creating literary experiences. She chooses texts that are rigorous, and she is able to draw kids into those texts emotionally, intellectually, and socially.”


    • Charlotte Nelson, Mathematics Teacher
      • Her nominator writes:  “The way that she connects with ALL of her students is incredible. She excels at being a team player and stepping up to the plate for the Buford Math Department. Charly does not stop at the classroom; however, she helps out with athletics at Buford and is the girls head lacrosse coach at Charlottesville High School. Charly carries her same philosophies into her coaching. Charly supports her students in their endeavors and extracurricular activities. She’s an active member of the school community and engages with parents on a regular basis.”


    • Erika Trent, Sixth Grade Teacher
      • Her nominator writes: “Erika Trent is a phenomenal teacher, mentor, and a shining example of a master teacher. I have had the pleasure of working with her first as her student teacher, then as a colleague, and now as the lead of our PLC. Another reason that Erika deserves this award is her ability to set high expectations, hold students to them, and help raise students up to meet them. She is firm, but caring, and clear in communicating both her expectations and specifically what needs to be done to meet them.”


    • Melvin Grady, Alternative Ed Teacher
      • His nominator writes: “I consider Mr. Grady an outstanding candidate for The Golden Apple Award because of his passion in his teaching to the students, caring about well-being of students and co-workers, being a role-model for the students, setting the example of standards and showing compassion.”


    • Carol Busching, Fourth Grade Teacher
      • Her nominator writes: “She engages deeply with them about who they are, who they want to be, what they want to do. She listens to them. She helps them have difficult conversations. She believes in students’ ability to learn and teach each other. She puts students into groups, and she is strategic about how she does this. Sometimes she groups students who vary in achievement levels and sometimes she groups students with similar achievement levels.”


    • Gabriela Moore, Kindergarten Teacher
      • Her nominator writes:  “She thinks about him as a whole person, and offers solutions and suggestions to help him improve not just academically but also socially. Mrs. Moore is very transparent with the curriculum that she is teaching to her class with her weekly newsletters giving updates and ways we, as parents, can help enhance/continue the students learning at home.”


    • Teresa Seto, Fourth Grade Teacher
      • Her nominator writes: “To encounter a teacher that has the ‘gift’ of teaching in a way that is effective; the ability to truly understand the needs of individual students; approaching teaching with inspiration and compassion; an energetic teacher who promotes open communication and building connections with parents to allow them to be part of the education process — well, that is rare. Ms. Seto is a RARE GEM. Ms. Seto creates such a fun, engaging, diverse, learning environment, and learning experience. She teaches with lots of enthusiasm and pushes her students to be the best they can be.”


    • Maegan Thim, First Grade Teacher
      • Her nominator writes:  “Mrs. Thim celebrates my child’s victories while also encouraging him to try harder. She makes him feel safe to bring his authentic self to school and helps him connect deeply with his classmates. I have watched my child blossom in so many
        ways while in Maegan’s class. She pushes herself as well as the students to reach their


    • Jillian Smith, Special Education Teacher
      • Her nominator writes: “My son has been fortunate to have her as his Special Education teacher for the past 3 years. In that time, she has cultivated his curiosity about the world, helped to soothe his anxiety and school avoidance, challenged him to overcome his struggles with executive functioning, and bolstered his self confidence in the face of low self-esteem and frequent negative self-talk.”


    • Suzanne Harris, Kindergarten Teacher
      • Her nominator writes: ” While working with a diverse group of students, Sue Harris has continued to put forth effort in collaborating with other specialists to ensure the needs of every student are being met and setting them up for greater success. She cares for each individual child and shows them love, compassion, and empathy. Sue Harris is such an asset to Venable and the Cville community.”
  •  2022 golden apple winners




    • Andrew Josselyn, English Teacher
      • His nominator writes: “Andy is an imaginative classroom instructor who is constantly looking for ways to make school relevant to teenagers’ lives. Andy’s creativity and commitment to improving our school community make him a huge asset to CHS.”


    • Matthew Resnick, History Teacher
      • His nominator writes: “Mr. Resnick has made his civics and economics classroom a safe, supportive space for all of his students. His classroom is filled with student-created artifacts that promote a culturally responsive, inclusive space for all students.”


    • Bridget Drain, Special Education Teacher
      • Her nominator writes: “Most notable is Ms. Drain’s commitment to helping students with marginalized identities find representation in the classroom setting. She not only builds relationships that are grounded in trust and respect, but sustains these connections long after her students leave her care.”


    • Huma Ahmad, Speech Language Pathologist
      • Her nominator writes: “She takes all of her time to help children who have special needs with reading or writing down to math reach their potential. She takes out the time to hear the parents and come to conclusions on what is best for the child.”


    • Caitlin Natale, Second Grade Teacher
      • Her nominator writes: “Every time I am in her classroom, there is a palpable love of learning. No matter what she is doing, the students yearn to engage with her.”


    • Brenning Greenfield, Kindergarten Teacher
      • His nominator writes: “Mr. Greenfield makes learning engaging (with his infusion of music), meaningful (such as with his classmate writings to celebrate their ‘Reading Stars of the Week,’) and rigorous as he encourages his students to think outside the box and embrace challenge.”


    • Melanie-Ann Johnson, Gifted Education Teacher
      • Her nominator writes: “Melanie Johnson has been an inspiration this year and in past years in her work with students, her outreach to the families of Jackson-Via and the larger community of Charlottesville.”


    • Lindsay Kamide, Reading Specialist
      • Her nominator writes: “Our daughter loves the time she spends with Ms. Kamide and we love how she meets her where she is and is always on point with book recommendations that she will actually enjoy reading.”


    • Jenny Isaacs-Lowe, Special Education Teacher
      • Her nominator writes: “Jenny Lowe is an exceptional educator and a vital asset to the Venable community. She is an advocate for all students and families, and she believes deeply in each student’s ability to learn and reach high standards in school.”
  • 2021 Winners: Kelsey Cox of Burnley-Moran; Amit Kapur of Clark; Desiree Conner of Greenbrier; Michel Ann Sizemore of Jackson-Via; Michelle Schettler of Johnson; Allison Shields of Venable; Maggie Pfuntner of Walker; Shinay Henderson of Buford; Matt Terillo of Charlottesville High School; Denise Meyer of Hospital Ed

  • 2020 golden apple winners

    2020 Charlottesville Schools Golden Apple Award recipients

    11 teachers from Charlottesville City Schools are among the outstanding recipients of the 2020 Golden Apple Awards presented by Better Living Building Supply & Cabinetry.

    These awards are presented annually to nominated faculty members from the public and private schools in Albemarle County and Charlottesville City.

    • Award recipients receive a Golden Apple, as well as gift certificates from local businesses. As a “Golden Apple” teacher, each recipient is also eligible to receive a $1,000 Golden Apple Grant to be used for classroom materials or to support the recipient’s continued professional development.

    Congratulations to the following 2020 winners: Lisa Johnson Black (Hospital Ed), Kelsey Cary (Lugo-McGinness), Mary Caitlyn Cordone (Clark), Matthew Deegan (CHS), Kavita Kumar (Greenbrier), Calder McLellan (Venable), Kathryn Salem (Jackson-Via), Brandy Walker (Buford), Lisa Wallace (Burnley-Moran), Cianna Washburg (Walker), and Lindsay Wayland (Johnson). Congrats to these amazing teachers!  You can watch the virtual ceremony here.

  • previous golden apple winners

    • 2019 Winners: Kathy Claus- Greenbrier Elementary, Melissa Combs- Venable Elementary, Will Cooke- Charlottesville High School, Maelys Croce- Johnson Elementary, Robin Ellis- Clark Elementary, Meaghan Fenton- Jackson-Via Elementary, Chris Lorigan- Burnley-Moran Elementary, Michael McCrory- Lugo-McGinness Academy, Melissa Mitchem- Buford Middle, and Kevin Paquette- Walker Upper Elementary.
    • 2018 Winners: Latoya Brown (Buford Middle), Mary Johnston (Burnley-Moran Elementary), Nicole Armstrong (Charlottesville High), Jessica Taylor (Clark Elementary School), Briana Barns (Jackson-Via Elementary School), Laura Schaaf (Johnson Elementary), Harry Hill (Lugo-McGinness Academy), Leslie S. Hunter (Venable Elementary School), Sarah Lloyd (Walker Upper Elementary School), and Patrick Beale (Greenbrier Elementary School).
    • 2017 Winners: Melvin Grady (Buford), Jessica Powley (Burnley-Moran), Brian Kayser (CHS), Ashley Riley (Clark), Amy Jones (Greenbrier), Lisa Utz (Jackson-Via), Lorena Caballero Bower (Johnson), Michael McCrory (Lugo-McGinness Academy), Nicole Driggs (Venable), and Samantha Pagni (Walker).
    • 2016 Winners: Cindy Cartwright (Venable), Mary Craig (Clark), Shannon Gillikin (Jackson-Via), Ron Green (Greenbrier), Jenn Horne (CHS), Patricia Luke (Buford), Alex Piedra (Walker), Leslie Scalley (Johnson), Tracy Weaver (Burnley-Moran)
    • 2015 Winners: Minda Barnett (Walker); Kena Lea Brandt (Greenbrier); Diane M. Foraste (Venable); Susan Jamme (CHS); Chris Lorigan (Burnley-Moran); Hillary Pleasants (Jackson-Via); Katie Rogers (Clark); Nancy Bailey Rickabaugh (Johnson); Lauralee Watlock (Buford)
    • 2014 Winners: Sara Epperly (CHS); Julia Evatt, (Walker); Dina Fricke (Clark); Andy Jones (Buford); Karen S. Minor (Venable); Stephanie Randolph (Johnson); Lauren Elizabeth Sandridge (Greenbrier); Andra M. Skeen (Burnley-Moran); Kristin Ullrich (Jackson-Via)
    • 2013 Winners: Jessica Bennett (Greenbrier); Nikki Y. Franklin (Jackson-Via); Renata Germino (Buford); April Hoffman (Johnson); Scott Mace (CHS); Virginia Monroe (Walker); Zoë Padrón (Clark); Michael Salvatierra (Venable); Rachel Savoy (Burnley Moran)
    • 2012 Winners: Virginia Hill (Walker); Adam R. Hoppe (Greenbrier); Allison Kennedy (Jackson-Via); Maggie Lovett (Johnson); Traci Martin (Venable); Katherine Witthauer Murah (Clark); Susan S. Muse (Buford);  Lauren Penniman (Burnley-Moran); Lester L. Wainwright (CHS);
    • 2011 Winners: Amanda “Amy” Thompson (Buford ); Kathy Umbdenstock (Burnley-Moran); Susan M. Garfinkel (CHS); Dawn Y. Reddick (Clark); Amanda Sherriff (Jackson-Via); Michelle M. Smith (Johnson); Brenda Payne (Venable); Lynne Herman (Walker); Ann Parks (Greenbrier)