Golden Apple Award Winners Announced

Winner and Runners-Up Selected in Golden Apple Plus Annual Educator Award Competition

Golden Apple Annual Award Winners 2016
At back, left-to-right are Freedom President/CEO Michael MacPherson and runner-up Thomas Fare. In front, left-to-right are Shelly Sparks, runner-up, winner Alisa Janiski, and Patrice Ricciardi, Freedom Business Development Specialist.

We’re pleased to announce that Alisa Janiski is the winner of our 2016 Golden Apple Plus Annual Educator Award competition. Ms. Janiski, a teacher at both Church Creek Elementary and Roye-Williams Elementary, won the top $1,000 prize for her concept called “Code for Change.” The award is for a Freedom member who is a deserving teacher, school administrator or school support employee.

Ms. Janiski’s winning concept will use computer programming in a lesson plan designed for elementary school students. It uses LEGO and K’NEX pieces combined with programing to teach engineering, robotics and problem-solving. As a result, she said, students will be able to work in teams to design, construct, and program to solve a problem.

According to Ms Janiski, possibly the best aspect of computer coding is the element of failure that the students experience. They are forced to troubleshoot, debug, and recreate multiple times until they reach success.Through her work at two schools, Ms. Janiski has the potential to impact 1,300 students.

Runner-Up Awards

First and second place runner-up awards of $250 each-were won by Thomas Fare, a second grade teacher at Hall’s Cross Roads Elementary, and Shelly Sparks who teaches at North Harford High School.

Mr. Fare’s winning entry included several ideas, such as engaging parents by filming students in the classroom for parents to view on a secure web site. He also developed a concept to make writing, proofreading and editing fun by turning the process into an experience like operating on a patient. In addition, he wants to secure an English as a Second Language (ESOL) certification to help non-English speaking students at his school.

Ms. Sparks won for her idea to purchase a document camera to incorporate additional STEM concepts into her Mathematics lessons. The camera, she said, will help students learn the step-by-step processes of problem solving, and will engage them to demonstrate their reasoning skills and perseverance to solve math problems. Seeing how different students can interpret and solve a problem will help the students reinforce that there is not just one way to think mathematically. By energizing and motivating the students, she hopes they may decide to pursue careers involving mathematics.

All applicants were asked to submit an essay demonstrating how their idea would serve their students, class, school and the Harford County community. Entries were judged by a panel of Freedom employees, board members, and a business partner; including President/CEO Mike MacPherson, Chief Risk Officer Michele Young, Board members Ronnie Davis and Lisa Ermatinger, and Mary Hastler, President of the Harford County Public Library Foundation.