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Good Apple Award

One of the most valuable assets of Regional School District 13 is its employees - the teachers, support staff, food service workers, custodians, administrators, and all others who contribute daily to the education of District 13 children. Each has an integral role to play in the overall successful operation of the school system.
The purpose of the Good Apple Award is to acknowledge and celebrate members of our school community who exemplify the core ethical values of respect, responsibility, honesty, kindness and courage and in so doing strengthen our community and inspire others through their example.

Each of these Good Apples were presented with an award on the first day of the school year. Please use the Good Apple Award Nomination Form to nominate a member of our staff.
Good Apple Award Winners - Convocation 2023

Good Apple Award Winners - Convocation 2023

CARLA MUSKATALLO - Nominated by Amity French-Wilson 
When I think of someone who exemplifies optimism, positivity and gives 110% each and everyday, I think of Carla. Whether she is cheering on co-workers or her learners she is radiating an energy that is contagious. You cannot help but feel enthusiastic when you are with her. When she is working with learners, they are so very fortunate because she tailors her teaching to meet their individual needs and finds a way to incorporate things they have a fondness for. I have seen nothing but big smiles from all of the children she is with, they are always engrossed and she makes it so enjoyable that they don't even realize how hard they are working to meet their goals. Miss Carla's kindness and respect for everything and everyone she encounters is without question, she doesn't just practice the core ethical values of RSD13, she lives them and models them for all of us to see. She is good to the core and the pick of the bunch! 
MARY KATE BRAND & TERRY RYAN - Nominated by Marissa Lombardo & Carla Muskatallo 
We would like to nominate both Mary-Kate and Terry for a good apple award. They both did an amazing job creating a welcoming environment for all learners. Their classroom had unique needs that required special training as well as flexible and forward thinking to ensure that all learners had an equal experience. They demonstrated a positive attitude and worked as a unified team to successfully manage any challenges that came their way. They both displayed kindness, respect, responsibility, honesty and courage the entire school year with big smiles on their faces. They both are worthy of this very special acknowledgement. 
CARIN NAPOLETANO - Nominated by Mrs. Barris’ Kindergarten Class 
Brewster School, Room 16 (Mrs. Barris’ Kindergarten Class) proudly nominates Mrs. Napoletano for a Good Apple Award. Together the class wrote a gratitude book with illustrations for Mrs. Nap. Here is what each child had to say… 
I am grateful for Mrs. Nap because she loves me. Taylor 
I love Mrs. Nap because she helps us read. She is kind. Jack 
I am grateful for Mrs. Nap because she helps me with words. Nick 
I love Mrs. Nap because she helps me write. She is nice. Aniela 
I am grateful for Mrs. Nap because she helps me with my letters. Natalia 
I love Mrs. Nap because she helps me with reading. Braelyn 
Mrs. Nap is the best because she teaches us math. Wyatt 
Mrs. Nap is the best because she loves our classroom community. Anita
I am grateful for Mrs. Nap because she helps me read. She is nice. Logan 
Mrs. Nap is the best because she is in our class. She is kind. Riley 
I love Mrs. Nap because she helps me read books. Rocco 
I love Mrs. Nap because she does math with me. She helps me. Luca 
Mrs. Nap is the best because she helps me with my letters. Landon 
I love Mrs. Nap because she is funny and makes me laugh. Vicky 
I am grateful for Mrs. Nap because she helps me read. Amelia 
I love Mrs. Nap because she helps me listen to the teacher. Tali 
I love Mrs. Nap because she always helps all of us. Liam 
I am grateful to have worked with Carin Napoletano this past year in kindergarten! Carin knew our students well and made sure their needs were met daily. Thank you for helping to make our room a safe and loving community. - Kimberly Barris 
ALICIA SITA - 2 Nominations (1 from Marissa Lombardo & Carla Muskatallo and 1 from the Brewster Related Arts Team) 
From Marissa Lombardo & Carla Muskatallo: 
Alicia exemplifies kindness, respect, responsibility, honesty and courage every day when she walks in the door at Brewster school. She works with learners of all abilities and makes sure that all learners are included and an integral part of the Brewster community. She is never afraid to ask questions or be an advocate for the students she works with. Alicia is creative and thinks outside of the box when adapting or making games inclusive for learners with all abilities. She constantly strives to ensure the safety and dignity of all learners. Alicia is worthy of this good apple nomination without reservation. The Brewster community is lucky to have her as part of the team. 
From Brewster Related Arts Team: 
The Brewster Related Arts team would like to nominate Alicia Sita for a Good Apple Award. Alicia strengthens and inspires all of us at Brewster School. Alicia has been a teacher assistant for 2 years. Since she arrived, Alicia has gone above and beyond. The students she works with are given her utmost attention no matter what they are doing and are challenged to do things for themselves, even when things might be difficult. Alicia always has a smile and a hello, sharing her positive attitude with everyone around her. At recess, you will always see Alicia leading groups of students in playing recess games. Some groups are small, but some days there have been a huge circle of students playing Duck, Duck Goose. They are always having fun! Alicia has come to the library to check out books to entice her students, which was a huge success. She would also advocate for extra enrichment time for her students on Fridays, giving of her own time to do so. Alicia will tell you, "I just like to help people." This is true even at the end of the school day, when she is always willing to stay and help with buses. Alicia's commitment to the learning and well-being of the students is evident in everything she does. Thank you Alicia!
JENNIFER LONGO - Nominated by The Brewster Related Arts Team 
The Brewster Related Arts team would like to nominate Jennifer Longo for a Good Apple Award. Jen strengthens our school community and inspires others with her commitment to sharing sign language. One of Jen's invaluable skills is her ability to sign and she finds ways to incorporate signing in many different places. In the fall of 2020, when our students worked with resident artists to create a school song, Jen approached us about adding a sign language component to the video that was created. She was very, very nervous, but she never gave up and that video with her signing was what we used throughout the rest of that school year. When we were finally able to have in-person assemblies, Jen wanted to continue the sign language live! While nerves still played a role, the importance of continuing to sign out-weighed them. It has been amazing to watch Jen and one of our students up on stage every week inspiring so many others. Some weeks Jen will teach the school a new sign and the students try their best to incorporate it. Each week our Senators and others are invited up on stage to sign too. When we look out at all the students signing each week, it is truly inclusive and joyful. We want to say thank you to Jennifer Longo for inspiring our school community! 
TERESA D’ANTONIO - Nominated by Tara Salvadori 
Please accept this nomination for Teresa D'Antonio for the Good Apple Award. Her role as an ABA therapist has been an asset to all of Brewster School for many years, but her role in the preschool program has been invaluable this past year in particular. She is extremely talented in working with students with and without special needs. She knows how to help them succeed and shine, and helps them showcase the best of what they can do. She is truly dedicated to bringing out the best in all of those in her care. Her fun-loving, kind, and energetic demeanor permeates her interactions with all who she comes into contact with, both children and adults alike. She selflessly shares her knowledge, tips, and tricks with colleagues, making them better at their jobs in the process. In a job that can become overwhelming at times, she has been a beacon of light guiding the way of those around her this past year, and it is inspiring to work with such a dedicated colleague. 
MELISSA ROSENTHAL - Nominated by Kristen Blake & Sarina Spotlow 
We would like to nominate Melissa Rosenthal with a Good Apple award. As kindergarten teachers, the beginning of the year is challenging. There is so much to teach and so much that kindergarteners need to learn. Important things like how to get on the correct bus or how to order lunch. Without even asking, Melissa would pop into our rooms and ask, "How can I help?" Sometimes she didn't even need to ask and she just jumped right in with an extra pair of hands. At the beginning of the year, Melissa made sure to get to know all of the kindergarten students' names. When bus routes were crazy, Melissa would sit in the bus lines and keep kids company while they waited patiently for their bus. Melissa is always asking kids how their day is going and if they seem like they need to talk, she stops and listens. Melissa is so deserving of a Good Apple Award for her kindness and support that she shows to students and colleagues.
ERIN GONZALES & MISSY MARTEKA - Nominated by Kristen Blake, Sarah Greco, Carol Sibiskie, Amy Sorensen, Valerie Swiantek 
We nominate both Erin Gonzales and Missy Marteka for a Good Apple Award. Every choice these two individuals make- from the way they smile and greet learners each day to their flexibility about scheduling and supporting their students- strengthens the John Lyman School community. Even when faced with challenges, they consistently carry themselves with the utmost kindness and regard for what is best for our community. Within five minutes of talking with either one of these amazing reading teachers, you understand the extraordinary depth of empathy and compassion they possess for their students. Erin and Missy make the enormous task of meeting readers’ developmental needs seem effortless. However, anyone who has had the privilege of working with these ladies understands the tremendous amount of work and dedication that they each exert to make their learners’ experiences positive ones. The students at John Lyman School are lucky to have such inspirational role models in their lives. 
MISSY MARTEKA - Nominated by Erin Gonzales 
Melissa Marteka plays many roles at John Lyman School - Reading Interventionist, Lead Teacher, beloved colleague, therapist, class clown and mother to all. In her 30+ years at Lyman School, Missy has done it all to the constant amazement of her school family. But Missy's greatest role is that of champion for children. Missy is utterly devoted to her learners and, in fact, every child at John Lyman School. She combines her wealth of knowledge about literacy instruction and child development with a profound affection for young learners. It is not an uncommon sight to see her eyes well up with tears when a student finally masters a hard won skill. Similarly, one may hear hoots and cheers as you pass by her classroom as she celebrates a learner's newest reading victory. And when a child is struggling, Missy knows just the right words to build their confidence and repair their spirit. Missy values each child as an individual. She knows their strengths, challenges, quirks and motivations. She uses that knowledge to inspire them, propel their learning, and advocate for their needs. Missy's unwavering passion, impressive skills, and boundless heart make her a gift to our district's youngest learners. 
DEB HANSEN-OLLENNU - Nominated by Sarah Sportelli & Katie Bodak 
Sarah Sportelli and Katie Bodak would like to nominate Deborah Hansen-Ollenu for this year's good apple award. Under any circumstance, Deb always starts and ends the day with a huge smile and positive demeanor. She is warmhearted to all staff and learners that she works with and shows compassion and flexibility within her job. She is dedicated to our team and strives to go above and beyond for our learners! We want Deb to know that all of those little extras she does, each and every day, do not go unnoticed, and are greatly appreciated by her team!
CHERYL FORBUSH - Nominated by Memorial School Staff 
The entire Memorial School Community would like to nominate Cheryl Forbush for a Good Apple Award. Her flexibility on a day to day basis has eased the unfortunate substitute shortage. Cheri comes to work with the plan of being a literacy tutor, and then quickly pivots direction when she is asked to be a classroom teacher, art teacher or any other assignment. She quickly adapts her plans for the day and heads into the substitute position with a smile! Thankfully for Cheri, learners in all classrooms have had a friendly face and consistency in the daily schedule. All of Memorial is grateful for your support! 
AMY SCHAFFER - Nominated by Chris Napoletano 
Amy Schaffer embodies all of the core ethical values that we want our learners to have. She goes above and beyond her job responsibilities on a daily basis. She brings a variety of educational experience to Memorial School and joined the staff for the 21-22 SY as a math tutor. Seeing her work with learners now, you would never know that math was not an area of educational experience that she came to the job with. She has worked diligently to learn the math strategies that we want our learners to use and immediately applies her learning when working with them. She takes advantage of every opportunity she has to learn whether she is in a classroom working with learners or when she supports her intervention learners in pull out sessions. She always takes copious notes about students' progress and communicates with staff. On top of all this, she also spent countless hours getting certified in OG and works with learners at Memorial for OG lessons as well. Teachers at Memorial have shared with me on many occasions what an amazing job she does. Amy Schaffer is well deserving of a Good Apple Award. 
PAM LONGLEY - 2 Nominations (1 from Scott Mongillo and 1 from The Grade 3 Team at Memorial)
From Scott Mongillo: 
Mrs. Longley is truly dedicated to the learners, the school, and the staff. She creates a beautiful environment in the building. Thanks to her diligent effort, the hallways sing with vibrant learner created artwork. She is always ready to volunteer to assist anyone with creativity and collaboration. Her investment in getting the most potential out of everyone is inspiring. She has allowed the learners opportunities to create long standing murals - the epitome of the Memorial School ethos that "Everybody is Somebody" She ensures the school is welcoming with vibrant displays that invite you into the school. And finally, the smile that these learners bring to her with their success is absolutely joyous! 
From Grade 3 Team: 
Selfless, team player, approachable, dedicated and creative are just five of many attributes that best describe Pam Longley. Pam is willing to help anyone with any project or take an idea and make it a reality. Pam continually uses her expertise to deepen the curriculum of her students. She helped support the third grade learners with their scarecrow creation that showcased the life cycle of the monarch butterfly. Pam also collaborated with Art Spot to bring the whole school community together to create a representation of the uniqueness, diversity and beauty of the school population creating a mural of our school motto that will welcome future generations of Mustangs for many years to come. Pam ensures that Memorial School is full of vibrant, colorful images with constantly rotating bulletin boards showcasing student work. Beyond the obvious creativity, Pam is also willing to support all students in all ways possible. She spends weekly time with learners as part of their success plans to help them be the best they can be. Pam is a perfect example of a Good Apple. 
CHRIS NAPOLETANO - Nominated by Cassie Bystrek 
A "Good Apple" is someone who exemplifies the core values and uses those values to strengthen our school community and inspires others through their example. Chris Napoletano fits this definition perfectly. Chris Nap is kind. He goes out of his way to not only be organized and precise in servicing his intervention students but checks in on the teachers he works with to support in any way he can. Chris Nap is brave. He has tough conversations when needed and leads with calm confidence. Chris Nap is respectful. He always offers solutions to tough situations and is willing to hand hold you through to teach you along the way if needed or wanted. His ability to help struggling math students gain confidence in their math understanding is unmatched. His presence in the classroom is supportive and non judgemental while being encouraging and easily team teaching to show a different approach. The students and staff of Memorial School are lucky to have Chris Nap as a teacher, mentor and colleague. He is truly a "Good Apple." 
MELISSA WHITNEY - Nominated by Lore Lena & Clea Meliso 
Melissa is a consistent, stabilizing force in the Memorial School community exemplifying all of RSD 13's core ethical values. She is strong, dependable, and devoted to doing whatever it takes to foster success in her students. When faced with sensitive issues or uncomfortable situations, Melissa offers honest, heartfelt guidance to her students. Once Melissa's students exit Memorial, they are never far from her heart. This past year, Melissa eagerly ventured out on a bowling trip to reconnect with her former students. She does everything possible to give them the coping strategies they will need in the future. She is fierce and determined when faced with challenges and stress. She always manages to handle difficult situations with patience and professionalism, no matter how intense they become. She is also a team player who enthusiastically collaborates with peers and other staff members and is always ready to offer her support in any way she can without expecting anything in return. As a supervisor, she is kind, fair, supportive, and understanding. She gives selflessly and is always available to help out at any given minute. She is truly a gift to Regional School District 13 and is deserving of a Good Apple Award. 
AMITY FRENCH WILSON - Nominated by Missy DiPietro 
Amity French-Wilson exhibits the true qualities of what it means to be a team player each day. Not only that, but she shows up with a smile on her face and a warm hug for anyone who's in need. She cares for the students, and our team, as if each person she works with were the only person on earth. Not only do we feel supported and valued in her presence, but she has the uncanny ability to help everyone see their true light and potential. Amity gives 110% of herself each day, flexing to wherever her skills are needed. In essence, she embodies the heart of the RSD13 family.
MERYL VALLONE - Nominated by Missy DiPietro 
Meryl is the epitome of what it means to be a team player. She cares for the students as if each were her own, helping them to feel supported, valued and confident. She does the same for her Strong Team. Meryl is always there with a shoulder to lean on, or a hand to assist - without complaint. Meryl's dependability and conscientiousness exemplifies how very valuable she is to the RSD13 family. 
ERIN SCHILLING - 2 Nominations (1 from Jennifer Fowler and 1 from Jamie Fredericksen)
From Jennifer Fowler: 
Erin is constant, consistent and fair. She is strong, respectful, trustworthy, a leader and hard worker. She worked hours on end, day and night, leading up to the Matilda production. She would still come in every morning ready to go, no complaints, and ready to find a solution to any challenge she faced. Erin cares about our students and her peers. She steps in immediately to help wherever needed, in any capacity. As a lead teacher she handles situations with authority while preserving the students' dignity. She takes on any responsibility that is asked of her. I feel that Erin exemplifies the traits of Coginchaug's Good Apple. 
From Jamie Fredericksen: 
This year, as our lead teacher, Erin has personified the district’s core ethical values. Erin helped to make sure that SAT Day ran smoothly for our Juniors, helped with the organization of community service hours for the seniors, created countless modified schedules to meet the needs of our learners and helped fill the gaps when staff members were absent. Erin is kind, determined and extremely hard working. She not only produced an incredible musical but finished her 092 program at the same time. Erin provides a listening ear, supportive shoulder and an honest opinion to anyone who needs it. I’m very lucky to have Erin as a co-worker and close friend! 
RYAN BOTHAMLEY - Nominated by Diane Walsh 
I feel lucky that I have a classroom across from Ryan Bothamley. His room is always full of sunshine, even on the cloudy days, because of the positive, safe, and friendly vibes that Ryan exudes….always. Ryan is kind to everyone with whom he interacts and never raises his voice. He communicates clear expectations and treats all students and staff with respect and courtesy. 
The art room’s safe environment allows students to explore their talents and push beyond the easy. He makes himself available if a colleague is having a bad day and is an excellent listener. 
He looks for warts to create interdisciplinary opportunities and is presently taking classes at Wesleyan to further improve himself. Most recently, his students created a quilt of endangered species in Connecticut where each student chose a creature and then designed/carved a linoleum stamp which they then made a print of the creature onto fabric. When Robotics Club needed a button design and a banner, his classes provided the club with three designs and then painted an amazing Pizza Planet banner to accommodate our Toy Story theme. 
Despite teaching an overage and having a homeroom, Ryan forms relationships with even more students through Ski Club, Open Studio during Advisory, as well as Art Club after school. 
Being across the hall, I notice the numerous times a day that his classes are interrupted by students and staff looking for paper or glue sticks or paint or other supplies. Ryan always greets everyone with a smile and is genuinely excited to hear about what projects the students are working on. And not just any smile….a large grin. 
Ryan has dozens of fantastic ideas for our school’s future. However, because Ryan works tucked away in the Art/Tech Ed wing, and since related arts do not have a single common planning period, most of Ryan’s amazing accomplishments go unnoticed by the majority. But I see you Ryan Bothamley! And your students do too! You are one of the kindest people I know. You brighten my days and I admire you as a teacher and a person.
Good Apple Award Winners 2022-2023

Good Apple Award Winners 2022-2023

ALEX EDWARDS - Nominated by Bridgette Schlicker
Consistent and positive .
Alex Edwards is consistent and positive.
He shows up for work every day with a smile on his face, ready to excite and engage all of his students with his awesome lessons.
He is the first to step in when we are short and need a duty covered (a daily occurrence), a student disciplined, a problem solved. Alex is always upbeat with all students and staff. He arrives to school early to set up all the spectacular lessons he planned including using the blower to dry the fields (so that no one has wet feet)! Then he makes it a point to check in with everyone and provide some positive words of encouragement to start the day. 
He happily joined me on Wednesday and Friday mornings with my “What Dreams Are Made Of” job at Morning Valet Duty to fill me in on what I missed earlier in the week, but most importantly, to start each student’s day with a smile and a “Good Morning!”. He does not realize what a difference this makes for students and families to be greeted by first names and smiles. 
When I became sick in the beginning of April, Alex showed up. He covered my classes, he covered my duties, he made sure my students started their day with a smile, a wave, and a hello like I did every Wednesday and Friday morning. He wasn’t asked to show up, he just did because no one else was coming and he knew it was what was BEST for our kids.
Brewster School is so lucky to have Alex Edwards and I am so lucky to call him my friend.
Please honor the man, the myth, the legend~ Mr. Alex “Consistent” Edwards!
NICOLE FRANK - Nominated by Dan Carcaud, Karolyn Glatt, Amy Schaefer, and Meg Smith 
It is not easy to come into a job part way through a year. The task becomes even more challenging in the COVID era, and in a position where one is asked to work with some of our learners with specific needs. Nicole Frank was able to do this seamlessly, and has gone above and beyond to help at Strong School.
Nicole can be seen in any classroom helping the learners that have such a diverse range of needs. But she has shown patience and care in working with some of the students whose learning plans require both a “firm hand” as well as a pair of “delicate gloves.” Students know where the boundary lines are for Mrs. Frank, but also that she will be there for the learner should they need reassurance.
As a colleague, she can be seen all around the school giving her own time. Nicole has volunteered to help in a variety of settings whether she is needed to be there or she’s on her individual prep period. Within a few days of her hire, she was someone willing to listen to do things a different way. But she also was able to speak up and provide suggestions for new learning.
Nicole was able to pitch in and join the seventh grade on our overnight field trip to Camp Jewell. And engaged in all of that when she was about to close on a new house. If ever there was a time for one to stay home and take care of themselves, that would be an understandable one.
Nicole Frank is an excellent example of a paraprofessional who reinforces the Core Ethical Values. In particular, the courage to come through and start a job in a difficult time. And throughout the school year, she has a drive to be the epitome responsibility and kindness in a job that can test one’s patience.
Nicole, we salute you. Thanks for all that you have done this year!
KIMBERLY MACH - Nominated by Cheryl Gonzalez
Mrs. Mach personifies what it means to be a learner-centered teacher.  She exemplifies our core ethical values with an emphasis on Respect, Kindness and Courage.  Upon entering her room one is instantly met with a welcoming smile.  And, it does not end there,  lessons are developed and implemented so that all learners feel a sense of belonging. Different perspectives and life stories are valued.  Mrs. Mach is respectful and kind to everyone she interacts with and she has the courage to ensure that every learner’s voice is heard. This is especially important in the middle school years as they develop into young adults who are making sense of the world around them.
 Mrs. Mach also runs (without a stipend)  an after school program called SAGA where all students can share their story and promote acceptance of all people.  Her actions inspire others to be a better person and accepting of all others, making our school a kinder and more accepting environment.
Mrs. Mach is a true asset to the entire RSD 13 and specifically FW Strong Middle School.  
MAUREEN HAMILTON -  Nominated by the entire staff at Strong
The entire staff at Strong Middle School would like to nominate Maureen Hamilton for a Good Apple Award. Maureen always goes above and beyond for her colleagues and students. She is exceptionally generous with her time, treasure, and talents. Maureen has had a major impact on our district and Strong School. 
Maureen leads by example, and people naturally want to follow her peaceful yet commanding presence.  She has been a tireless, creative, and ever-helpful colleague. She is always willing to share the credit and acknowledge others' contributions to things. Maureen is dedicat ed and patient with all learners–both school-aged and adults! 
Maureen inspires her students to do more, learn more, and be more every day. She recognizes their diverse learning styles and adapts lessons to meet their needs and stretch their abilities for authentic learning. She gets to know learners on a personal level and builds personal relationships with them. You can often find Maureen walking into school in the morning with treats for someone. 
Here are just a few highlights of the past two years at Strong in her new position as the Enrichment Teacher, a position which she essentially designed for herself: 
  • Assisted with Gr 6 Advisory lessons and activities.
  • Provided projects, ideas, and activities to be used in Explorations classrooms, as well as countless resources for teachers.
  • Organized and updated the Padlet for students years  bringing much joy and smiles to students
  • In the 8th grade Explorations classes, Maureen volunteered to set up a unit on Defined Careers. In addition to training the teachers, she guided learners through interest surveys, career exploration, and finance planning. This unit was so successful that students requested that she come back and teach them more after the unit ended!
  •  Maureen has been a long-time supporter of the Latin program- inviting Katy Reddick into her 6th-grade classroom at Memorial for years. This year they have shared a classroom. 
  • She is often in the building before and after school to meet with learners when they are available rather than making them work to her schedule, including:
  • On Friday mornings, Maureen comes in early and brings in treats for the learners in the Witness Stones Project. She organized this group to research primary documents to find out about and lay a stone to commemorate the life of Ceasar Stevenson.
  • On Tuesdays, she stayed after school every Tuesday to co-lead the writers’ club.
  • She stayed after school on Om meet with Math Olympiad
  • Maureen also ran a book club for teachers at Strong on student-drivewn classrooms, helping us see that learning is often messy, sometimes even chaotic, and a good teacher organizes the chaos.
She has been a friend, colleague, and a role model for all of us. She has changed learners' lives; she has changed our lives and made us all better teachers. Her legacy at Strong will continue. 
Compassionate, caring, empathetic, advocate, and professional are just a few of the words that can be used to describe these three amazing women.
Pam Branciforte, Ann Bourland, and Deanna Loso have been at the forefront keeping us all safe, cared for, and healthy. They not only excel at taking care of our students, but care for our staff as well, and they have done so much more than that for me.
These past two years, I have been on a roller coaster of medical appointments, tests, and finally a diagnosis for myself which all of these women have supported me with. Then, they sprouted their wings in May and became my guardian angels. Deanna Loso saved my life! She advocated for me, on speakerphone, when I was in the emergency room, all alone and too sick to fight for myself. She consulted with Ann about the care that I should have been receiving, and once I finally got the right diagnosis, thanks to Deanna’s insistence of a D Dimer blood test, Pam swiftly paved the way and took care of everything on the admin end, so that I could focus on my health. I am here today because of them!
Please join me in honoring these three amazing Good Apples.

DEANNA LOSO - Nominated by the Brewster Teachers
The Brewster teachers nominate our school nurse, Deanna Loso, for a Good Apple Award. Deanna has always been a kind, compassionate, and competent care provider for our students and has truly gone above and beyond to reassure, educate, and counsel families and staff members during the ever-changing policies and procedures related to the global pandemic. She has become our public health ambassador all while continuing her usual roles of managing chronic health conditions, handling unanticipated emergencies, and providing TLC to those who just need their daily dose of Miss Loso. Deanna exemplifies our district's Core Ethical Values on a daily basis, and her strong character has never been more evident or more valued than during the pandemic. She has shown respect and kindness when serving as a sounding board for the personal and professional health concerns of staff members. She provides judgment-free advice and is a wealth of knowledge and resources. Deanna has taken responsibility for the well-being of our school community by encouraging staff members to bring Covid test kits home before leaving for April break so we could return to work with the knowledge of a negative test result (or stay home if the result was positive). She is willing to pitch in when we are short-staffed and helps out in the office and with bus duty on a daily basis. Deanna demonstrates courage in many of the conversations she has with the families of our students about the district's Covid policies, procedures, and mitigation practices. Her message may not always be popular, well-received, or easy to deliver, but it is communicated non-confrontationally and with the safety of our school community at its heart. Nurse Loso has risen to meet the challenges posed by the pandemic and has been essential to the success of The Brewster Bunch in navigating this uncharted territory. She truly is a “good apple” and is most deserving of this award and the district-wide recognition that goes along with it. 
LAURA EKBLADE - Nominated by Kate DeMartino
Laura Ekblade exemplifies the Core Ethical Values at Regional School District 13. She works with learners who have a range of diverse needs and does this with the utmost respect and kindness towards each individual student. She is dedicated to making the learning environment embody safety and accomplishment through social emotional and academic practices. She has a way of making the toughest learners open up to her and that quality has made her a huge asset at Coginchaug and specifically the Alternative Program. 
JANET YURA - Nominated by CRHS Special Education Teachers
Janet Yura has been with our special education department for 10 years and prior to that worked within our district helping our learners for three years. She is an asset to our department in many ways. Janet goes above and beyond when it comes to fulfilling the requirements needed to be an excellent teacher's assistant. She is the queen of planning and preparation. Janet takes the initiative to learn the curriculum of all our students' classes and the students take advantage of her knowledge to support their educational programs. Not only does she support our students significantly, she supports our department by using her organizational skills to order supplies, diligently maintain our files, and performs many other clerical duties to support the department. Janets demeanor is so calm, yet we know that even in the most difficult situations, she is supportive, dependable, and knowledgeable. We truly appreciate and recognize her great worth in the special education department.
MARYANN MCGRATH - Nominated by CRHS Special Education Teachers
MaryAnne McGrath is the heart of the CRHS Special Education department. She is kind, nurturing, compassionate and loving. These qualities are evident throughout all she does while working within our department and school. Students seek Mrs. McGrath out, on a regular basis, for support or a kind word. No matter the situation, whether it be helping students in the classroom setting, planning vocational activities or job-coaching in the community, MaryAnne is enthusiastic about helping our students achieve the most success they can. She has a natural understanding of what each individual student needs. She often takes initiative to plan thoughtful and appropriate activities for all students. Without hesitation, Maryanne is always willing to help students, always willing to assist adults, and she is consistently proactive. Students and staff alike are drawn to Maryanne’s warmth and passion, but mostly everyone recognizes the gift she has for impacting students. MaryAnne loves her students, the teachers and CRHS. Our department would not be the same without Mrs. McGrath.
TOBY RASCATI and PAMELA LONGLEY - Nominated by Carla Muskatallo
I am nominating Toby Rascati and Pamela Longley for a Good Apple Award.  They recognized the need for positive experiences through movement, regulation, and mindfulness amongst learners at Memorial School.  With the increased academic demands as well as the long lasting mental health concerns from the fall out from the pandemic they have begun planning and implementing a “Sensory Walk” outside the corridor at Memorial School.  A sensory walk is typically a fun or colorful pathway that is used for children to explore new or different sensory experiences.  Sensory paths can be used to support children with sensory processing issues, help children to develop motor skills, balance, hand-eye coordination, spatial awareness, attention, regulation and availability.  Through Toby collaborating with team members to come up with the stations for the pathway and Pam using her artistic abilities, the pathway is well on its way.  Learners of all abilities have opportunities throughout the school day to use this pathway and with the additional money received from the CVEF Grant they will add more stations this coming school year.  This wonderful idea portrays the district’s core ethical values and increases another opportunity for the learners at Memorial to become the best learners they can be. 
LINDA SIERRA - Nominated by Nilani Shankar and Danielle Hay
Nilani and Danielle nominate Linda Sierra for a Good Apple Award. Linda is helpful each year in her school social worker and mid-level leader roles at Brewster and John Lyman. Before the school day, she greets us and routinely asks, "What do you need?" Her offer was incredibly helpful last school year when we were away from our home buildings to cover Memorial testing cases. With a smile, Linda saw students on our counseling caseloads and assisted with many building emergencies. She lent a helping hand without complaint. As a social worker, Linda does an amazing job in assisting families to navigate community mental health support. Last year, she was highly effective on a complex case and an essential member on the team. Her work was key to the child's well-being in school. In her mid-level leader role, Linda clearly communicates important information from the student services and special education office to pertinent staff. She offers to chair many PPT and 504 meetings. Her advice and humor, especially on stressful days, puts staff at ease and contributes to a positive school climate. Linda exemplifies the Core Ethical Values of Region 13. She is a wonderful colleague and friend. 
APRIL VOTTO and EILEEN CHUPRON - Nominated by Ryan Donecker
April and Eileen are superstars. They are the glue that quite literally holds our school together, especially this year, and there is not enough that we could do in return for everything they do for all of us at Coginchaug. Not only do they keep this school running, but they also put out every fire that is thrown their way. Inundated with questions and students all day long, they still somehow manage to keep the ship afloat. I personally can't thank the two of them enough for all the help, not just this year, but every year. The two of them were an incredible resource in helping with graduation this year and I wouldn't have been able to have gotten it done without their help. They do it with kindness, they do it because they care, and they do it because they are good apples. ;)
Good Apple Award Winners 2021-2022

Good Apple Award Winners 2021-2022

Brewster Elementary School
Marybeth Ghoreyeb - nominated by Elyse Kirschner

Mrs. Ghoreyeb has gone above and beyond with teaching cohort C virtually this year. Mrs. Ghoreyeb arranged so many amazing opportunities for her students such as virtual book buddies, STEM activities, and even holiday parties. The students have so many opportunities to work together in small groups and are encouraged to take risks with learning. Mrs. Ghoreyeb's lessons are thoughtful and rigorous. Students are always working on new projects, reading new books, and learning skills in strategic groups. She has created a classroom where students have bonded and have embraced the challenges of virtual learning. Mrs. Ghoreyeb truly has embraced technology and embraces the challenges that come with remote learning. Every student is given opportunities to learn and grow each day. She really loves each student and has created a fun, and loving virtual classroom.

Carla Muskatallo - nominated by Kelley Lehman

If there were a dictionary for Core Ethical Values for our district, Carla Muskatallo's picture would be printed underneath all of the values. She exemplifies respect, responsibility, honesty, kindness and courage no matter what she is tasked with, who she is working with, or what problems come her way. She is a natural problem solver and does whatever possible to achieve the best outcome for her students. For example, during the COVID pandemic in summer 2020, all staff and students were faced with a reality we had never experienced before. Many special education students and preschoolers had a difficult time navigating school through a new "remote world." Carla went above and beyond what was expected by not only putting together individualized learning activities for students to use throughout the summer, but also buying the materials and hand delivering them to each students' house. 

Students enjoy working with "Miss Carla" in the OT room. She collaborates extremely well with all staff members at the multiple schools she works in, and thus has earned the respect of her colleagues. She is a face that parents trust to do what is best for their children. She's honest with parents about what their child's weaknesses may be but maintains an optimistic view on what each child can accomplish based on their strengths. She always has a smile on her face and a positive outlook on everything...kindness is her middle name! I've witnessed her "tears of joy" because she puts her heart into everything she does. When you're feeling down, she's there to lift you up. For these reasons and more, I nominate Carla Muskatallo for the Good Apple Award! 

Allan Schulenburg - nominated by Carla Muskatallo and Dana Markovitz

Dana and I are nominating Allan Schulenburg for a Good Apple award.
Allan has gone above and beyond this school year to assist a student who needed a positive role model in his life. This student had a passion for music and Dana and I knew right away who would be the best person for the job.  When we approached Mr. Shu about helping, we were met with an overwhelming response of “I’d be happy to help in any way that I can”.

Allan had lunch with this student every Wednesday and was able to build a very nice bond with the student.  The student would make frequent comments throughout the week about how much he was looking forward to his lunch date and couldn’t wait to share a story or two with Mr. “Shu”.

Allan represents all of the core ethical values of this district and has shown this student by his example  how to demonstrate respect, responsibility, kindness, and courage every day.
Lyman Elementary School
Chris Davis - nominated by Kristen Blake and Kerry Chernovetz

Chris Davis implemented an early intervention program in kindergarten to help support students' early literacy skills.  Chris knows the importance of giving our youngest students every opportunity for becoming successful readers.  She utilized the different schedule of classes having two related arts per week due COVID constraints and the unusual school year.  Chris then created schedules so that kindergarten students who needed some extra practice with letter identification, letter sounds, rhyming and letter formation were being supported and given one on one practice.  Chris trained related arts teachers and teaching assistants so that it truly was an "all hands on deck" approach.  Thank you to Chris and to the many staff members who supported our students this year!

Missy Marteka
Erin Gonzales
Tracey Pollitt
Karen Balavender
Tracy Earnshaw
Jen Holland
Mike Meurs
Carrie Howes

Danielle Hay - nominated by Kristen Ciccone, Margo Novak, Tori Ramada, Carole Sibiskie and Valerie Swiantek (1-2 Team at Lyman)

The first and second grade team at John Lyman School respectfully nominates Danielle Hay for a Good Apple Award. Remaining calm in all situations, Danielle is a pillar for our school community. Students know they can trust her to help solve problems, regulate emotions and gain independence with challenging skills. Students are comforted by the natural way that she explicitly teaches them to communicate and manage expectations. She respects students’ developmental readiness when it comes to applying social-emotional skills. Aside from handling sensitive situations with care and compassion for both students and adults, Danielle also volunteers to creatively develop individualized plans for students. Their success is at the forefront of her mind when developing these plans, even if it means packing her schedule with student check-ins and creating new documents for each child. She happily and skillfully communicates with parents about their child’s needs and always has the students’ best interest at heart. She is an amazing educator, colleague and friend. 

Kate McLaughlin - nominated by Katie Bodak

Kate’s hard work has been so helpful to all of us in the special ed. department this year.  From learning all of the special education forms and documents, helping us to organize our calendar, keeping us on track to submit IEPs on time and helping us (greatly) to get them sent out on time, I call her my  “IEP Fairy”, and we are so very lucky to have her support.  I would say that I could not do it without her, but I have, and it was terrible.  Having her is truly a blessing, and to have someone that you can trust and rely on with no doubts in that position is remarkable.  I just wanted to thank Kate for going above and beyond in order to learn everything that she needed to know (and then some) to do her job to the best of her ability. Her hard work has been noticed, and has been appreciated, immensely.  That is why I nominate Kate for a Good Apple Award this year!
Strong Middle School
Melinda Aronson-Bailey - nominated by the 6-7 remote team: Maureen Hamilton, Michael Kilmas, Gina Lentini, Susan Michael and Melissa Rosenthal

We nominate Melinda Aronson-Bailey for a Good Apple Award.
This year Melinda coordinated the 6-8 Remote C Cohort, in addition to doing some of her regular coaching duties, teaching remote math classes, and serving as math chair for the building. In her coordinator role, Melinda has created countless schedules, coordinated countless meetings, and facilitated countless conversations and communications with parents, students, teachers, and administrators. She does all this with nary a complaint while maintaining a positive attitude.

Melinda is always thinking ahead for the good of the learners and her colleagues. She speaks on our behalf with administrators to gain support or answers to questions. We have relied on Melinda this year for support, a listening ear, a sounding board, and information more times than we can count. We are all so very grateful for her dedicated work ensuring the success of our remote teaching and learning.

Melinda is a shining example of the best of us- dedicated, knowledgeable, compassionate, and organized. This award would be a small way to thank her for all that she has done, often behind the scenes and always without hesitation, so that our students and staff were successful in this most challenging year.

Dan Carcaud - nominated by Jennifer Penney and the 8th grade teachers

Many of us know him as Commander.  Dan Carcaud is a highly respected member of the Strong School community by both colleagues and students alike.  He never hesitates to help out a colleague in need, whether it be covering a class or coming up with lesson plans.  And his students…he goes above and beyond for them daily.  Dan ensures his lessons meet the needs of all students.  His way of engaging his students to understand and learn why history is important and relates to them is amazing.  He helps facilitate the Student Senate and knows how to get students involved in our Strong community as well as our Durham-Middlefield community.  And how can we forget Camp Jewell – the time and effort he puts in to guarantee the success of that trip for the 7th graders often goes unnoticed.  It is because of his dedication to our Strong community that the 8th grade teachers nominate Dan Carcaud for a Good Apple Award!

Karolyn Glatt - nominated by Chelsea Baczek and Claire Falvey

Karolyn is not just a good apple, she is the whole tree! From day one at Strong School, Karolyn has been happy to attack any challenge.  This past year, on multiple occasions, she was asked to provide support to students and staff in ways that she was not necessarily familiar with. With great courage, Karolyn rose to the occasion every single time.  Whether it is creating individualized modifications for grade level students, teaching lessons remotely to students with significant special needs, or problem solving with students who are having a hard time; Karolyn faces each responsibility with patience, kindness, and an open mind.  If you have been fortunate enough to work with Karolyn, then you know first hand what a good apple she is!  We are so proud and grateful to have Karolyn on our team!
Coginchaug Regional High School
Pamela Branciforte - nominated by the RSD 13 nurses

This year, the nurses of District 13 would like to nominate Pamela Branciforte for a Good Apple award. Pamela, CRHS School Nurse and our Covid Liaison, has demonstrated all of our district’s Core Ethical Values. She has had the courage to face the challenges of managing our community’s health during this pandemic, giving us sound guidance and advice based on scientific principles. She has done so with respect and kindness, and a sense of humility and grace. This has been a difficult year, with all community groups needing help in navigating Covid19 issues. She has been a resource, teacher and advisor to school nurses, administrators, teachers, families, local public health and town officials. She has participated in State level public health meetings, bringing back critical information to be used in our district. Pamela’s tireless work has allowed us to keep our schools open. She carries a “bat phone” after hours, to respond to urgent requests for information. Her honest concern is for the best interest of all of us. Her non-stop effort has allowed all of us to proceed with educating our students. Her tireless responsibility to our community is unparalleled. This school year would not have been as successful without her keeping us all safe, and navigating us through the pandemic. It is with sincere respect and gratitude that we are nominating her for a Good Apple award.

Melissa Gonzalez-Moreno - nominated by the Special Education Department

Melissa Gonzalez-Marino has been a leader in our department for many years.  It is apparent her success in the education profession is driven by the passion she has for every student’s success. 

Melissa takes the role in leadership of our department and is always willing to ‘go the extra mile’ to help our students and colleagues.  She is proactive in foreseeing that our department is in compliance with expectations whether it's for the department, the school, the district, or states requirements. 

On a daily basis, she is a positive motivator to all of our students.  Especially during this year teaching through a pandemic, Melissa has done an amazing job keeping our students heads above water and their minds at ease.  It’s evident that the students know she cares.

Melissa’s positive energy and selfless acts of support exemplifies the term “leadership.”  Without hesitation Melissa paves the path for all of us as a department.  She is always focused on the positive actions to defend against the struggles and/or frustration that we have experienced at times.  Her actions have made a difference for all of us. 
Melissa exerts her fantastic personality, light-heartedness, and great sense of humor all while maintaining her professional demeanor, high achievement,  and leadership in every sense.

If anyone deserves a Good Apple Award, I would like to recommend our colleague, Melissa.

Rachel Mann - nominated by the CRHS Science Department

Rachel Mann joined the CRHS science department during the summer of 2020. She quickly learned to teach three courses that were new to her, in two different areas of science certification, during a period when teaching has been a challenge for everybody. In these actions Rachel has shown outstanding courage, and her efforts represent the epitome of responsibility to the students, the school, and our community. In addition, she has proven herself a valuable department member through her communication skills, collaboration skills, kindness, and honesty. She is a pleasure to work with, and is highly deserving of this Good Apple award.

Diane Walsh - nominated by Maria Altieri and Melody Lee
Diane is a lifelong learner who radiates excitement about her subjects.  She spends countless hours creating engaging lessons for her math and technology classes, often incorporating the names and interests of her students in the activities. Even during the summer, Diane extends her learning to prepare for the next year. During the last several summers, she has participated in intensive courses on coding and STEM explorations.
On a typical day, Diane will run into our classrooms to share her latest project or brainstorm solutions for a challenge her students have come across. Her work does not end at 2pm; she’s always looking for new and better ways to challenge and engage her students. After school and on weekends, she offers extra help for her math students or works with her robotics club to prepare for their next competition. On Saturdays, she sends us videos of the latest exploits of her students’ robots. Late at night, our phones will light up with texts about the latest amazing math lesson that Diane has designed.
Diane not only motivates her students, but she inspires her colleagues to set high standards and explore new learning to improve our teaching.
Good Apple Award Winners 2020-2021

Good Apple Award Winners 2020-2021

Brewster Elementary School
Christy Barrett - nominated by the First Grade Team at Brewster School
The words that come to mind when thinking about this “Good Apple” are collaborative, flexible, professional, organized, and knowledgeable.  Christy Barrett is all of these things and then some.  Christy leads with integrity and knows the curriculum.  Her understanding of what kids need to be successful well-rounded readers and writers is apparent through her work.  She not only engages the students in new learning but the teachers as well.  Christy is eager to model lessons, gather resources, organize materials, and participate in an open dialogue on how to improve instruction in the classroom.
Through the uncharted waters of “distance learning” Christy led the way!  She stepped up to the challenge and helped teachers organize the process, worked tirelessly on making sure the students were engaged but not overwhelmed, and worked hand in hand with her colleagues each day.  Christy is not only a dedicated professional but kind as well.
This is why the First Grade Team at Brewster School would like to nominate Christy Barrett for a good apple award.
Sharon Criscuolo - nominated by Lori Robison and Sandy Simon
The office staff would like to nominate Sharon Criscuolo for her willingness to come in during the Covid closure and help us out anyway she could.  Sharon came in many days to help wrap up the school year.  Her willingness to do whatever was needed from gathering student materials and belongings to packing up classrooms and labeling furniture was greatly appreciated.
Noelle Durkin - nominated by the Brewster First Grade Team
Whether she is sitting around a table for a team PLC, laying on the carpet with kids during math workshop or skipping down the hallway, she is always around with energy and a smile on her face. We all know Noelle is extremely passionate about all things math, but deep down she is truly passionate about everything, especially kids. Creating videos and lessons for fact fluency, sharing new resources and manipulatives for teachers or supporting one of us as we  try a brand new lesson or strategy in our classroom, Noelle is the biggest cheerleader. We can’t thank Noelle enough for the time, energy and dedication to math but also to a collaborative member of our team and school.
Through “Distance Learning” Noelle made individualized videos to teach math concepts, joined meetings with our team to collaborate, and thought outside the box for all of your learners.
This is why the First Grade Team at Brewster School would like to nominate Noelle Durkin for a Good Apple Award.
Susan Michael - nominated by the Brewster First Grade Team
When you think about Science in Regional School District 13, one important name should come to mind. Susan Michael is passionate about making Science a strategic facet of learning for all students in the district. Whether it be out on our beautiful nature trails, field trips or in classroom visits, Sue captivates student interest in Science by being motivating and hands on. She worked tirelessly integrating CREC units, developing district plans, and scopes of sequence for teachers in the hopes that Science would be fun and engaging for not just students, but teachers as well.
This was no exception during Distance Learning. Sue made students countless videos, pulling plants from her backyard, doing simple experiments and even doing cartwheels for Earth Day!
In the words of Neil deGrasse Tyson, “The best educators are the ones that inspire their students. That inspiration comes from a passion that teachers have for the subject they’re teaching. Most commonly, that person spent their lives studying that subject, and they bring an infectious enthusiasm to the audience.”
This is why the Brewster First Grade Team would like to honor Susan Michael with a Good Apple Award!
Susan Michael - nominated by Kristen Ciccone, Margo Novak, Carole Sibiskie, Sarina Spotlow, Valerie Swiantek 
Everyone in Regional School District 13 probably recognizes Susan’s most recent role as the go-to NGSS guru as a daunting task.  She has taken on this “new” position over the past few years and works really hard to make science education rigorous and accessible to students and staff alike in K-5.
She has a passion for science and a love of education that has prompted her to become a life-long learner. With a smile on her face and a willingness to go the extra mile (literally- this woman has to walk and hike trails in preparation for lessons!), Susan inspires others through her diligent work ethic.
Sue teaches based on the idea that knowledge is best acquired through experience. The experiences she creates for teachers and students are the ones that shape us the most.  Through her teaching and modeling she is able to guide us to build critical thinkers in and out of the science classroom. She engages students in inquisitive and engaging discussions where she introduces new vocabulary and concepts. 
Sue reaches out to others in our district to offer help and support in any way she can, no matter how much is on her plate.  She is always there to supply the materials necessary for any activity, and is willing to come in to teach a science lesson when we could use an extra hand or guidance.
There is no doubt that Sue leads by example, inspiring students and co-workers alike.  Sue will not stop until the job is complete and is willing to do whatever it takes to make sure it is completed to the highest standard.  

Coginchaug Regional High School
The CRHS Math Department (Kathy Zygmont, Meg Kavanaugh, Maria Altieri, Kendra Havens-McColgan, Melody Lee, Craig Bradanini and Karen Perry) - nominated by Diane Walsh
Most people would be quick to admit that math is the hardest subject to learn with or without a pandemic.  However, teaching math remotely poses a unique set of challenges due to its symbolic nature.  The CRHS math department members are colleagues, yes, but we are also friends.  We have had a long-standing group chat going for years.  We have lost a few members over time, but we have also gained new friends.  We are all very different but we have a common goal to make math engaging while also embracing our core ethical values.  When there are opposing viewpoints, we discuss, review, sometimes compromise, and resolve.  We started planning immediately the first weekend of our two-week break for how we would approach distance learning.  During this pandemic, we regularly shared successes and difficulties.  For the latter, we helped each other problem-solve.  We shared ideas and brainstormed projects.  We maintained high standards.  We checked in on students to see how they were adjusting.  We checked in on them, not just their missing work.  We reached out to the students we thought may be struggling—some were not even our current students.  Some of us maintained contact with Study Hall students.  We experimented with technology from YouTube videos, to external webcams, to Educreations and tablets, to selfie sticks, to small and large whiteboards, to camera phones, to EdPuzzle, Screencastify, and Screencastomatic.  Together we have made hundreds of videos.  We gave honest feedback as we held students responsible for their learning while showing kindness and flexibility when warranted.  We respected the ever-changing rules from administration while courageously finding new ways to deliver instruction.  We embraced the directive to focus on the experience and developed new performance tasks related to COVID-19 for our upper level classes.  Our students modeled the data, made predictions, and differentiated between true and skewed infographics.  We found ways to be creative (in Math!) via quirky illustrations, corny jokes, puzzles, music, and many photos of both teachers’ and students’ pets.  Two of our members were concurrently finding innovative ways to teach Technology Education classes to students using minimal equipment typically found in a home.  The CRHS Mathematics department continues to deliver engaging new content with high standards while focusing on the well-being of our students.  One of us lives alone; a couple are caring for elderly parents; and even more difficult, some are raising their own children.  I know that all teachers around the world have worked hard during this unprecedented time.  For me, my colleagues did it with humor, intelligence, grace, and kindness.  They constantly help me improve as a teacher, friend, and general human being.   Kathy, Meg, Maria, Kendra, Melody, Craig, and Karen are all deserving of this recognition.

Julie Lagace - nominated by the History/Social Studies Department at CRHS
Julie has served as our Team Leader for the past four years and we are ever so grateful for her leadership.  To summarize our good fortune, we have chosen the mnemonic SUPER to describe Julie’s contribution to our department.
S - She is SELFLESS.
Julie consistently puts the department and its members' needs before her own.  She is always available to problem solve, listen, emphasize, and advocate.  Her consistent, steady demeanor keeps us all grounded, focused, and together as a team.
Julie supports us in any challenges we face professionally and personally.  A true friend and amazing colleague… we are lucky.
Julie is a consummate professional as a leader.  She runs organized, efficient meetings and maintains inventory, manages budget, and advocates for our department regularly.  We always have what we need.  She advocates for what is right for kids whether it be support in the classroom, technology needs, or textbook updates - Julie is prepared with data/evidence to demonstrate and justify what’s needed.
E - She is an exemplar - she is the best of us all.
She provides an excellent role model for our team and our students every day.  Always prepared with engaging lessons; consistently encouraging collaboration within the classroom and our department.  She sets our bar high for students and department members alike. 
R -  She is responsible.
Julie keeps us on track, like herding cats.  She provides the focus for curriculum updates, structure for meetings, and if we can’t find something, we can be sure Julie can.  She’s our glue.

Erin Schilling - nominated by Mike Meurs, Allan Schulenburg, JoAnna Schmidt, Lisa Conant, Steve FitzGerald

The past few months of school have been trying on so many levels within the RSD 13 music department. Not only have we had to navigate the transition to distance learning, we also had to do so without a department head who was injured when we transitioned to the distance learning model.

During these trying times, Erin has stepped up, first as the unofficial department head, then was made the interim department head, and been a unifying force within then music department. During this time she made sure to provide us with help, support, coordination, and also a good friend to talk with when needed. This is all while Erin is working to provide quality distance instruction to her 7-12 grade classes, and also
helping out the long term substitute for Tim. Erin’s willingness to step into this role has been a major factor in the success of the distance learning program for our music department. Her commitment to the music department and her students is why Erin is more than deserving of a Good Apple Award.

Kristi Ullman - nominated by Laura Francis
Last year I had the pleasure of having a student that is one of those students that leave a mark on your heart forever, and I know Kristi feels the same. She was this student’s case manager for their four years at CRHS and I saw first hand how dedicated she was to helping them grow and succeed here at CRHS and beyond. She truly cares about the whole person and helping them reach their full potential. I know it was not an easy road, but the consistent calm, kindness, positivity and high expectations she had for this student (and I’m sure all of her others), truly made a difference in their life and for me was inspirational. Kristi is one of the teachers that makes this community better and stronger. 
John Lyman Elementary School
Lyman Special Ed Paras (Alicia Mancarella, Tara Tuttle, Susan Francis, Tracey Pollitt, Dara Einhorn, Laura DiBenedetto) - nominated by Kristin Allen
The paraprofessionals at John Lyman School have always been known to go above and beyond day in and day out This was especially true during Distance Learning. They spent endless hours  attending meetings and taking notes for case managers,  meeting with students  during office hours and modifying work, all to ensure that the students with IEPs experienced success. Their diligence and dedication to the profession was admirable. I personally don’t know what I would have done without their support during these unique  times. To each of you, thank-you for making a difference in students’ lives. Thank-you for making a difference in my life. Love, Kristin. 
Erin Gonzales - nominated by Melissa Marteka and Chris Davis
It is our absolute pleasure to nominate Erin Gonzales as a recipient of a Good Apple Award.  Erin exemplifies, to the core, what it means to be a responsible and respectful staff member at John Lyman School.  She takes her role as a Literacy tutor very seriously and strives to be the best she can be, whether it means researching the latest best practices in reading, building a rapport with both her students and teachers, or lending a hand whenever she senses the need. Her courage to learn new technology has saved us during Distance Learning and has made for a more efficient transition for us.  Erin takes on each and every  challenge with a smile and the perseverance to do what it takes to “get the job done.”   Her work ethic helps to make everyone around her strive to be the best they can be.  Erin’s positive attitude brings a smile to us all and for those reasons we thank you, Erin, from the bottom of our hearts, for all you do each and every day to better the lives of our John Lyman School community.

Middlefield Memorial School

Maria Fazzino - nominated by Samantha Winkler on behalf of the Memorial School SAT Team

Data. One little four letter word with so many implications, conversations and research behind it.
Maria Fazzino is the queen of data. Our SAT meetings are often fast and furious, with
discussions about student progress and next steps being of the utmost importance. We can
always count on Maria to provide us with relevant, honest and current information about her
students. She is responsible for teaching a large number of students specific reading skills, and
she stays organized and is incredibly diligent about sticking to the schedule that she has made to increase the students’ progress. Maria has the courage to stand up for what she believes is best for children, both when that means increasing or decreasing service hours. She is a role model for accountability at Memorial School, and classroom teachers and the SAT team alike feel more at ease when she is in a meeting, because we know that she will have the data to back up the decisions that she is proposing. Data can be a scary thing, and Maria helps kids graph their progress, and helps teachers keep track of their interventions. She is an inspiration and a model to strive toward. Maria is truly deserving of a good apple award!

Erica Flanagan - nominated by Samantha Winkler on behalf of the Memorial Special Education Team

Erica is kind to all students and staff members that she comes across in the hallways at Memorial school. While this may seem like a simple task, it is complicated by the fact that she is often the sole adult responsible for a student who is at the moment in need of a break, and therefore has been encouraged to go for this walk with Ms. Flanagan. Erica is always ready to accept the next task with a smile, and has shown her incredible capacity for relationship building with our students who require some extra attention. She encourages these students to take risks and try new things, and she exudes genuine happiness when she is with them. When distance learning began, she quickly agreed to check in with these same students, commenting that she had truly missed them. She can always be counted on for a kind word (or comment in google classroom), and she is a true asset to our Memorial School team.

Danielle Miller - nominated by Barbara Allen and the Memorial School 4th Grade Team - Sarah Cerbarano, Nancy Kozlik and Amy MacKay
Danielle is truly an invaluable asset to our Memorial family.  Her dedication, flexibility, unflappable patience, sense of humor and kindness is admirable and we are so appreciative of having her as a colleague. Her passion for teaching and love of children are evident throughout the entire school community. The warm, positive environment that she creates in her classroom allows for all children she encounters to learn and grow not only in their academics but also in their social and emotional growth and overall well being.
Danielle seamlessly weaves in and out of the 4th grade classrooms connecting and supporting all children. Her gentle nature, dedication and creative teaching practices have supported and promoted children with the most complex learning or behavioral challenges to flourish.
Whether at a Student Assistance Team Meeting, Planning and Placement Team Meeting, Grade Level Team Meeting or a scheduled time to collaborate about a child, Danielle is professional, efficient, thorough and precise.  Without fail, she approaches each interaction with the same goal in mind, "What is best for students." The outcome of each exchange becomes a student centered plan based on best practices. She flawlessly gets the job done while truly fulfilling a full time job in a .6 position and then going home to be a wonderful wife and mom to her three children. Not to mention, Danielle brought a dog into their family and completed the Orton Gillingham Program this school year.
Parents, Colleagues and the fourth grade students at Memorial School would all agree Danielle is so very deserving of this Good Apple!
Strong Middle School
Brenda Parness - nominated by Bryden Whiting
I just wanted to take this opportunity to nominate and thank, Brenda Parness for her role in Distance Learning. Her communication, leadership and work ethic are exemplary. That inspires myself and other to work harder.  I could not imagine going through Distance Learning without her. Brenda is very polite and kind with her words, even when correcting a mistake. These qualities make for a great teacher and teammate. Thank you for all that you do Brenda!
Claire Falvey - nominated by Rebecca Sinusas
Claire is an incredible teacher, person, and a true representation of the Core Ethical Values.  She works tirelessly for all students, especially those that struggle, to ensure that they have the opportunity and tools to succeed.  As a former Special Education Teacher, Claire actually replaced me when I became a school counselor.  I was so hesitant to leave this position, as I loved the work and the students so much.  Well I left it in the most dedicated and capable hands that I could’ve imagined.  Not only does she work hard for students, but as the Mid-Level Leader, she represents faculty and staff.  Since our Distance Learning has started, she continues to work countless hours for all of us.  Keeping the staff up to date on the numerous changes happening by the minute, even when that news isn’t popular.  All the while maintaining support for our students.  I am so proud of her and thankful to call her a friend and colleague.
Michael Klimas - nominated by Cindi Kuzman on behalf of the Related Arts Team at Strong School
Mike Klimas is an asset to Strong school for all staff and students alike.  He is a welcoming, smiling face in the halls in the morning and a joy each day with his booming and energetic voice on the announcements urging us to “Stay Strong Forever!”   He is always willing to lend a helping hand, be it a technology concern, library resource question or just to listen.  Mike has helped many of us on the related arts team, from easing transitions for new teachers to going above and beyond with any technological or resource question. And when distance learning hit us, his knowledge and skills with technology  helped all of Strong and the entire district get up and running in record time. No matter how frustrated or slow we may be to learn things, he is there with his patience, kindness, and humor to gently lead us through. Thinking about others and going the extra distance to get the job done, makes Mike not only a wonderful and trusted colleague but an asset and invaluable resource to Strong School.  He is truly a “Good Apple”!

District Teachers

RSD 13 Teachers - nominated by Kimberly Barris
Good Apple Award Winners 2019-2020

Good Apple Award Winners 2019-2020

Laura Bernstein - nominated by Carla Muskatallo

I am nominating Laura Bernstein for a Good Apple Award. With the increased academic demands and expectations, students are often feeling anxious and overwhelmed.  I asked her to pilot a theory of embedding self-regulations activities and movement into the daily routines of her classroom for 8 weeks to see if she noticed an increased level of availability for learning with her class as well as improvement with overall classroom behavior.  Based on a conference I attended, I gave Laura a few suggestions to help with the 8-week trial.  Laura not only embraced the suggestions, she ran with them.  She was so motivated to help the students in her class succeed.  Laura found more and more simple activities and was always adding new tools to her toolbox of success.  Laura willingly accepted this opportunity to enhance the mind-fullness and learning in her classroom. It is clear to me that Laura loves being a teacher and she exemplifies the core ethical values to strengthen her classroom. Laura's enthusiasm and passion for teaching and eagerness to make a positive impact in her students inspires me every day to follow her lead. 
Laura Bernstein

Sue Gaudreau and Jimmy Croteau - nominated by Bryden Whiting

Sue and Jimmy have done an exemplary job at taking over for Rob Francis as our Building and Grounds Operations Manager and Facilities Manager.  The last week of April building and grounds oversaw the repair of our A/C unit in our main server room at CRHS.  The server room temperature reached over 90 degrees, overheated equipment and caused issues for the entire school district.  Jimmy stayed on-site into the evening that day until the job was 100% complete and the temperature was regulated.

Over April break my key broke off inside one of the doors at memorial school, leaving us locked out of one of the rooms, unable to gain entry. Within minutes Sue Gaudreau had my key replaced, access regained and the locksmith scheduled for repair minimizing the impact to our workday. Sue and Jimmy Continually put in 110%. I thank them for their service, support, and dedication to Regional School District 13.

Ali Glassman - nominated by the CRHS SPED Department

Ali is always smiling and brings positive energy wherever she goes. She is a team player!  She is consistently the first to step-in and offer support, whether it's helping with various needs within the department, or planning school wide events, like the awesome annual CRHS holiday lunch she loves to decorate for.  

Ali has a creative and cheerful approach when working with students. She loves what she does and this is evident to all, staff and students alike! This is one of the keys to having a successful impact and motivating students to learn. Ali is always willing to go the extra mile to help students and her colleagues. 

On a daily basis, students request to meet with her, whether it's to talk through a plan or to get strategies from her for effective studying. Ali seamlessly supports all areas of academics, very often going above and beyond when students need support in areas that are outside of the scope of core academics; for example, helping students study for EMT exams and DMV exams.

Ali maintains a sense of humor and people are drawn to her because she is witty, fun, light-hearted, professional and intelligent.
Ali Glassman
Gail Harris and Maria Prifitera (CRHS Food Service Cafeteria Dynamic Duo) - nominated by Mark Basil

It is very difficult to talk about one without saying something about the other one. Both Gail & Marie work together unbelievably well. There is nothing that they cannot do or will not do for the students and the program. Their pleasant day in day out approach to their job makes for a lively work environment and healthy relationships among students and staff. They are the CORE of the high school food service team.Gail has been a full time employee of the district for 10 years now and Maria 7 years. Since their arrival our menu has expanded to cover made to order items such as; Fruit Smoothies, Ice Cream Sundae Bar, Asian Noodle Bars, Burrito Bars, Chili Bars,
Sliders Bar, Chipolte Station, and the most popular station, the Deli Station with all of the daily variations that are offered.

They always do their work with a special touch of kindness and a thorough attention to detail & quality. They are extremely valuable to our operation and are a big reason for the program's success.

It is a WIN WIN situation when you have people who really enjoy their jobs and do it very well. These are two GOOD APPLES!!
Maria & Gail

Paul VanSteenbergen - nominated by Diane Walsh

Mr. Paul is one of the most thoughtful employees in our district. He is an observant man and his brain is forever storing little tidbits of information matching needs with solutions by finding or crafting objects that fit the part. When he noticed that my students had designed and built shin guards for an engineering project, he constructed the class a wooden leg test fixture so that students could run an impact test. When I mentioned that a cabinet broke in my home kitchen and many of my glass casserole dishes had shattered, he magically produced the extras from his own home. When he saw my mess of papers on the back counter, he built me a shelf so I could be better organized. Most importantly, he interacts with the students as well as the teachers. He never gets angry about the sticky glue on my desks or the amount of pasta I manage to spread around the first floor with projects. He always waves me off with a smile and makes some quip like, "as long as it's not cooked." When a student spills something in the hallway, he gets right to cleaning it; if there is a scolding, it is said with a smile and usually followed by a song. Mr. Paul is always thinking of ways to improve our lives in RSD13. For example, when he noticed me struggling with my box of robots that I drag back and forth between home and school, he not only bought me a cart, but he modified it to be a double decker and fashioned a protective cover to keep the electronics dry on rainy days. When they say, "it takes a village," I am glad to be in the same village as Mr. Paul. He makes a difference and is an important part of my own bubble of wellness.   
Picture of Mr. Paul

Good Apple Award Winners 2018-2019

Good Apple Award Winners 2018-2019

 Karen Balavender – nominated by John Lyman office staff
Because of the way she exemplified the Core Ethical Values each day the Lyman office staff would like to nominate Karen Balavender for the Good Apple Award.
We feel Karen is so deserving of this award and her ability to go above and beyond is constant. She approaches each task asked of her with patience, kindness and expertise. From bookmaking to birthday club to daily dismissal, which we know in itself can be challenging, she does it all with a smile!
Karen is always willing to take on any assignment and a pleasure to work with. Thank you for all you do. You are part of the reason our school is so special.
Justin Brochu – nominated by the Strong School staff (Kathleen Davidson)
Justin (JB) definitely deserves the Good Apple Award. He is a joy to work with. Always smiling, singing and working.
Justin is a kind gentle giant! He is a hard worker who strives every day to make our building clean and organized. He responds quickly to any problem. When Gary Penkes retired, there wasn’t a bump in the transition; Justin stepped right into his new role flawlessly. Justin goes out of his way to offer his help in any way anyone needs it, even helping various staff with car issues in the parking lot.
JB is a shining example of our CORE ethical values in every way. His level of caring and consideration for everyone in this building, be it students or staff is exemplary. He goes out of his way each day to keep our school clean and to meet the needs of each student and staff member with kindness and respect. He is conscientious and hardworking, trustworthy and honest. He is our go to man every day, a “Jack of all trades”.
We at Strong are lucky to have Justin as part of our Strong Team.
Dave Duncan – nominated by the math and reading departments at Memorial
Dave Duncan, head custodian at Memorial, improves our school climate by just his presence. He always has a pleasant expression on his face as he walks through the hallway and can often be caught singing or humming to himself! He is always willing to help in any way he is asked and generally improves everyone’s day when they come into contact with him. He makes our school a welcoming space for students and staff.
Dave Duncan – nominated by Memorial School
Dedication, professionalism, and a constant positive attitude are the qualities that exemplify David Duncan, our nominee for a Good Apple Award.
Do you need a lock cut off a locker?
Is there a toilet overflowing?
Do you need help moving a heavy desk?
Has someone dropped a lunch in the cafeteria?
Is there ice in the parking lot?
David Duncan is the man we call at Memorial School to fix all the mechanical problems and make our school spotless. We all know we can count on Dave, no matter what is needed.
He has been a custodian at Memorial School for 35 years and no one who has worked with him can recall a time that he lost his cool or his positive attitude – that alone would be cause for a Good Apple Award, but it does not stop there. Mr. Duncan treats this building as if it were his own. He brings in tools from home and gets to work an hour or more early every day – doing anything that is needed to make the school look its best and run smoothly.
Here are a few of the ways David Duncan has come to the rescue of one of us at Memorial:
Working as the School Secretary, I call Dave for numerous things and often many times a day. One time that really stands out in my mind is when I called him to the office because the radiator was making a loud noise. Dave came in and started to take the radiator apart and when I asked him if he thought he know what it was he just calmly said yes, I believe so and put the cover back on with a big smile, never leading on that he pulled a dead mouse out of the radiator! I cannot think of a more deserving recipient of the Good Apple Award!
Dave Duncan moves table for band rehearsal in the cafeteria almost every day, without complaint. He is kind, helpful and always friendly!
Dave does all our heavy lifting in the kitchen without a complaint and fixes anything that breaks. We would never be able to do our jobs without him!
There are so many wonderful qualities Dave exemplifies; it’s hard to pick just one! His work ethic, willingness to help and gentle spirit are but a few! He has a wonderful sense of humor and kind encouraging words to the students. A true, hardworking gentleman to be emulated.
If you hear a whistle in the hallway, it is most likely Dave. I have never seen him in a bad mood!
Dave is always practicing our Core Ethical Values – he is always kind, respectful, honest, responsible, and yes – courageous (you never know what you’re going to encounter in a middle school!)
Dave saves the day. He rescues us from bees, shares great stories from Maine, and grows blue ribbon vegetables!
Dave always helps when you have a problem, whether it is big or small. He handles it promptly and always responds with a smile and “No problem.”
Dave is so helpful to our students, anytime they need something he isn’t far away, will drop everything to lend a helping hand. Greets the students almost all of them by name. He is always so nice and ready to share a good story. Thank you Mr. Duncan!!!!!!!
Alicia Mancarella – nominated by Katie Bodak and Danielle Hay
Danielle Hay and I would like to nominate Alicia Mancarella for a Good Apple Award. This year would not have been as successful as it was without her daily support to our team. Alicia is always thinking ahead to make sure that students have what they need to be prepared, each and every day. Since she is oftentimes in the classroom with the students, these needs may go unnoticed by her team, and she never fails to advocate for what her students need to be successful. Alicia has gone above and beyond to support the students and staff with whom she works, and her support has been greatly appreciated. Alicia is also organized, timely and concise with all that she does. She plans ahead to support teachers and students alike. We want Alicia to know that all of those little extras she does, each and every day, do not go unnoticed, and are greatly appreciated by her team!
Robert Nemphos – nominated by Clare Matasavage
There are people in this world who continually give to others. Bob Nemphos is certainly one of those people. He is always there to lend a hand to anyone requesting his help. That includes colleagues, coworkers, students, neighbors and even strangers.
He graciously takes on projects such as “teach cooperative games” to a group of college students, or write, produce and start in the “Be-Well Brief”. He does all this on his own time without expecting to be paid.
He willingly helps any other teachers needing help; Just ask and it happens and always with a smile.
Students often come to Bob for a level head to talk to when they are troubled by this or that. He always has time for them. Students seek Bob out years after graduation to talk again and enjoy his company. His friendly open personality is very engaging.
And, Bob is just plain fun. His enthusiasm is contagious. He is unafraid to try anything which in itself encourages his students to do the same.
As for me, as his colleague, he has lent a hand to help, a shoulder to lean on and a foot to kick me forward when I was not feeling brave enough to undertake a new challenge.
Matt Tobias – nominated by The Lunch Ladies at CRHS
Matt hasn’t been with the district very long, however, we have come to depend on him to always have a positive attitude with whatever we ask.
He gets his job done with always a smile and nary a complaint. He always has a kind word and usually takes on tasks above and beyond what is asked or expected of him.
Matt shows great respect and responsibility and that is why we nominate him.
Good Apple Award Winners 2017-2018

Good Apple Award Winners 2017-2018

Tracey Pollitt – nominated by Katie Bodak, Amanda Dobler and Melissa Whitney

We are nominating Tracey Pollitt for a Good Apple award. Tracey is always a thoughtful and considerate co-worker and a remarkable educator. She willingly takes on tasks and often comes up with innovative ideas to implement with our students. Tracey’s commitment to our students and her job is undeniable. She takes on new challenges including technology, plans, data collection systems, and schedule changes with a smile on her face and true devotion to the tasks before her. She works tirelessly to make sure that the students she works with have books published, backpacks organized, projects assembled, a smile on their face and a healthy snack to eat. You can feel her love for the children and her job every single day.

Tracey is a pleasure to work with and her dedication is an inspiration to all. Tracey also shares her talents in the kitchen, which of course makes the students and staff at Lyman very happy. Tracey doesn’t just think about her students and co-workers while she is at school, she is often picking things up for teachers or materials to supplement a current theme or project for our students while she is out shopping. She does this out of the kindness of her heart, and we here at Lyman are forever grateful for her unending thoughtfulness. From her cheerful smile to her generous heart, Tracey is a gift to the students and staff at John Lyman School.


Penny Sawicki – nominated by Carla Muskatallo

Ms. Penny Sawicki exemplifies the core ethical values, literally “strengthens” the school district and community as well as inspires others through her example. Penny is the district’s physical therapist who not only is an advocate for all of her students, but goes above and beyond making sure that her students are integrated to the best of their abilities within their school environment but also their community. Penny educates families on community resources such as Special Olympics, adaptive bowling, therapeutic horseback riding and organizations to buy specialized equipment such as bicycles. Penny is creative with her service delivery ensuring that her students are working hard to achieve their goals and objectives all while having fun. Penny is honest with her students, they respect her and they want to please her. She is very positive and encouraging even with the toughest of challenges, she always strives for her students to be the best they can be. Penny is a holistic therapist that looks at the whole student from head to toe. From her work with the preschool age students through transition academy age young adults, Penny is an amazing therapist who makes an amazing difference in the lives of the students she works with.


Patricia Smith – nominated by (1) Anonymous and (2) Susan Michael

  1. Patty Smith has done so much to strengthen the teaching and learning community in District 13. Her work in the curriculum office has been invaluable this year. She has contributed to the consistency in programming, the meeting of deadlines and the dissemination of materials and information. Patty is wealth of information and if she can’t answer a question she finds the answer. Patty is creative and brings that flair into all that she does. Meetings and events are made more special because of her organization and creative flair. Patty cares deeply for the people she works with and supports. Regional School District 13 is a stronger professional learning community because of Patty Smith.
  2. Patty Smith has been extremely helpful to Susan Michael as she transitioned to her new role as the elementary science specialist this year. She has gone above and beyond the call of duty to make cost effective purchase choices, process P.O. requests in a timely manner, schedule and reschedule meetings, process paperwork efficiently, and obtain needed information.

Patty always works with her colleagues in a respectful and kindly manner. She has gone out of her way to help Susan and others with projects that helped professional development sessions go more smoothly. She is always willing to lend a helping hand. Her organizational skills are helpful. We are eternally grateful for her professionalism and cooperation. She truly is a gem.


Rita Van Steenbergen, Catherine Crocker and Gail Foreman – nominated by Strong School staff and submitted by Kathleen Davidson

Our cafeteria staff deserves the Good Apple award for many reasons. Every day they take their time to make us delicious, balanced and healthy food. They are kind and courteous both to the students and to the staff.

For World Language week they worked with us to have a different international food each day, helping us to celebrate our world cultures even in the cafeteria!

As for many of us, food is a comfort in an otherwise very stressful environment, the lunch ladies help us each day to nourish our tummies and our spirits.

Each year, on the second day of school, I ask my students to share their favorite thing about Strong School. The number one answer is always the food!

Gail makes a killer wrap and her chicken and turkey salads are delicious. To misquote Napoleon, it is not just an army that moves on its belly – it’s also a middle school.

They are smiling, willing to help – be it lending out ladles for the Chili Cookoff – pieces of foil or wrap for a science experiment.

I am lactose intolerant, so every time they make cheeseburgers, they make and set aside a hamburger for me.

One of my students suddenly stopped buying lunch. Rita was concerned since she observed that she wasn’t bringing lunch from home either. She let me know.

Our cafeteria staff are critical in helping to manage student and staff food allergies. The Strong café ladies go above and beyond to help keep students and staff safe.

Good Apple Award Winners 2016-17

Good Apple Award Winners 2016-17

Erika Anderson – nominated by Susan Michael

Erika Anderson has gone above and beyond her professional duties ever since taking on the co-chair position of the last high school NEASC evaluation. She has spent countless hours coordinating schedules, organizing materials, and processing information. She also served on the follow-up committee and the two year report committee. She has been the go-to person for three administrators. In addition to this, she is an excellent educator and friend.

Robert Bajoros – nominated by Ron Melnik

On November 18, 2015 Robb Bajoros appeared before the RSD13 Board of Education. At that time he presented to the Board of Education the work he had done with the new Unified Sports Program. The presentation was very thorough and heartfelt. I don’t often use this term but his presentation was moving. He stated that he had coached athletics for 10+ years and this was the best experience he ever had. 

Robb appeared before the Board of Education again on January 13, 2016 as part of Nick Barbieri’s presentation on the state of athletics in RSD13. At this time Robb shared with the Board of Education just how much this program meant to the students involved. He defined the students involved as those in the Unified Sports and those involved in all other athletic programs.

Robb has integrated the Unified Sports Program fully into the district with his hard work and complete conviction. If you want further proof, just look at the pictures of the students with pure joy on their faces.

One can only imagine how much time and effort go into starting a program from the ground up. It is my honor to nominate Robb for a Good Apple Award.

Crystal Castro – Katie Bodak and the Lyman Special Education Team

We would like to nominate Crystal Castro for a Good Apple Award. Crystal’s support is easy to go unnoticed, as she does it so seamlessly. I think to really appreciate it, you have to have experienced what it is like without her, and we have. Each and every meeting we go to, we do not have to worry that a form will not be in the folder, she has already taken care of that. When we need an invitation sent out, all we need to do is email that information and she will take care of it… and if we forget to invite someone… she notices! She is a wonderful resource whenever you have a question about IEP regulations, and if she does not know off-hand, she knows right where to look. She doesn’t only tell us what needs to be done or do it for us, she teaches us along the way. In the insanity of the season, she is always willing to organize the paperwork and send it home. She has been a true lifesaver! Everyone needs a little “fairy”, as I call her, to keep us all on the right side of the paperwork tracks. Unfortunately, we are so sorry that she will no longer be our “fairy” as she will be moving on to bigger and better duties, to a place she is no doubt needed. We know she will be still be there to answer our questions and guide us in the right direction, but we didn’t want her to leave before we got to recognize her for all that she has done. It may seem minimal, but oh it was so, so much more. Thank you Crystal Castro, you have been a lifesaver!

Community Round-Up Planning Committee – nominated by Kathy Bottini, Melissa Cook and Becca Sinusas

Wilda Castro

Bronwyn Commins

Kathleen Davidson

Anne Doyle

Samantha Grayeck

Greg Morrone

Bridgette Schlicker

Lynn Schofield

Carole Sibiskie

Sean Regan

Sharon Rogers

The Community Round-Up celebrated its 10th year this past December. This annual food drive would not be possible without the hundreds of volunteers from our schools and community. We would like to recognize one group in particular for their dedication and commitment to this event; they spend many hours in the months before the Round-Up planning, advertising, recruiting students and coordinating this amazing day. Their generosity, kindness and energy are unparalleled. They have been with us from the start and we could not do it without them.

Rich Fielding – nominated by Bryden Whiting

Rich Fielding is a hard working individual who is dedicated to his position here at District 13. Rich leads by example and continually displays excellent communication and professionalism. He is a good teacher, a great boss and an even better role model. He is usually busy working on something important, yet he always finds the time to assist myself and others with their immediate problem. Because of this, I nominate Rich Fielding for the Good Apple Award.

Christie Fournier – nominated by Katie Bodak

I would like to nominate Christie Fournier for a Good Apple Award. Christie has been an invaluable member of my team this year. Her firm, yet caring demeanor always let the students know that not only does she care about the whole child, but she will follow through with her expectations to help each student grow. And more importantly, she will help them not only grow as a learner, but as a good person as well. She had high, yet appropriate expectations for each individual she was asked to work with and consistently worked tirelessly to ensure that she was doing right by each student. Furthermore, she was always listening to her team members and was not afraid to make suggestions on behalf of the team. Her honesty was always appreciated and represented the type of team that I want to be a part of. I appreciate here honesty and her openness to not only try to do what I am expecting, but to help me grow as a leader through questioning and conversations about best practices as well. Christie is another assistant who will not be with me due to budget cuts this year and that is a true loss for the district. She lives and upholds the Core Ethical Values at all times and I was so very lucky to work alongside such a dedicated and supporting team member. She will be greatly missed.

Susan Francis – nominated by Katie Bodak

I would like to nominate Susan Francis for a Good Apple Award. This was my first year as a teacher at Lyman and her first year as an assistant. Her support in a caring and kind way each and every day made a challenging yea a little easier to get through. Her desire to individualize for each child I asked her to work with and her ability to adapt as requested by me and as necessary for each student I asked her to work with was superb. Susan taught for many years in the classroom and yet she continues to search for best strategies to support individual learners and never made me feel like I was the new one. Her support was unwavering and so very appreciated. I truly believe that without Susan by my side this year I could not have experienced the successes I did. My only sadness is that she will not be with me next year and that is a true loss for the district. She is truly a valuable team player, that challenges students to their limits while also meeting them where they are “beyond the academics” at the same time. Her kindness and compassion for the whole child as well as the whole team is invaluable. I was so lucky to have her with me even if only for a short time. Her support will be missed greatly.

Alex Huffman – nominated by Ann Mallin

I would like to nominate Alex Huffman for a Good Apple Award.  Alex began her career at the MTA as a job coach. She has an excellent rapport and relates well to students with mild, moderate and significant disabilities. Alex has an excellent understanding of each student’s disability and is able to teach the student by modifying specific tasks so that the student can be successful at the work site.

After being a job coach for a few years, Alex became the full time vocational coordinator at the MTA. This is a challenging and time consuming job and Alex performs it exceptionally well. She is responsible for placing 28 students at job sites on campus or in the community, organizes and rotates the job coach schedules for every student, writes comprehensive vocational reports, attends all student PPTs and has ongoing communication with parents throughout the year.  In addition to all this Alex continues to expand job sites on campus and in the community for all of the students.

Alex works quietly and effectively and always places students at appropriate job sites. She has a good relationship with students, parents, teachers and co-workers.  Alex is a talented and committed educator and is truly a Good Apple who is well deserving of this award.

Amy Verre – nominated by Ann Mallin

I would like to nominate Amy Verre for a Good Apple Award.  Amy joined the MTA ten years ago as one of the program’s first job coaches.  She has worked well with all of the students at their respective job sites; many have very challenging behaviors.  Her calm and easy going manner is instrumental in having students meet success at job sites.  As the program expanded from two students to over 20 students, Amy assumed the role of assisting the classroom teacher and also taking care of all the clerical duties involved in running the program.  Amy is conscientious, detailed and flexible in her approach to students in the classroom and in completing all of the clerical duties needed to make the program run smoothly.  She organizes the van schedule every day and reorganizes everything if there are staff absences.  She updates parents on MTA events, dances, lunches and community outings.  She plans and organizes the annual MTA graduation.  For the past few years, she has come in on a Sunday to set up the tables and centerpieces for the graduation. She does this quietly and effectively and never complains.  The MTA program would not run as smoothly as it does without Amy’s constant effort, commitment and support.

Amy is well deserving of a Good Apple Award. She is an excellent employee, co-worker, assistant in the classroom, job coach and administrative assistant. It has been a pleasure having Amy at the MTA.

Sam Grayeck – nominated by Ann Mallin

I would like to nominate Samantha (Sam) Grayeck for a Good Apple Award. Sam has worked as a speech/language pathologist at the Middlesex Transition Academy for the past two years. In addition to working in the classroom, Sam has volunteered to organize various social activities for the students at the Academy and students at Wesleyan University.  This year she organized and hosted a parent and student evening at the First and Last Tavern which was a tremendous success.  She has helped organize and chaperone dances on campus, lunch dates, and community outings for the students at the MTA. Everyone appreciates the time Sam dedicates to the social component of the MTA program.  

Sam has been a tremendous help to teachers at various meetings with parents. She presents an excellent perspective to parents in terms of specific goals and objectives that their son/daughter is working on within the program. Sam volunteered to help market the MTA program by reaching out to social media sites including Facebook, to showcase the various activities in which the MTA students are involved. Her technological skills are a tremendous asset to our program at the MTA. Sam is organized, has excellent time management skills and also has the ability to motivate students both in the classroom and in the community.  Sam makes the students feel safe, happy and productive in their instructional time with her. She always has a positive attitude.

Sam is an excellent teacher and is truly deserving of the Good Apple Award.

Bill Kurtz – nominated by the Strong School Purple Team

Some teachers are a little twisted

Some are straight as a rod

Some have added sweetness

Some are funny or odd

We have a teacher at Strong School

that creates a different kind of vibe

He invokes a spark and is also so cool

He has become a vital part of our tribe

He codes, he creates

He inspires, he collaborates

He listens, he motivates

He jokes, he’s just GREAT

Bill is a teacher that is the salt of the earth

And the many flavors of life he brings

He shows the students what they are worth

And lets their voices sing

So simply said:

Roses are red

Violets are blue

You are an AMAZING teacher

And inspiring too

Ann Majewicz – nominated by Memorial School Faculty and Staff

We would like to nominate this year’s Good Apple Award to a woman who is an integral part of our school. She is a woman who wears many hats. From nurse to library aid to magazine queen, copy machine whisperer, office helper and the snack rapper, Mrs. Majewicz has the work ethic that supports all of us. When any of us need coverage she helps without complaint. She is the only one we know who can get a roomful of students to sit quietly with a blink of an eye. Over the years she has certainly seen many changes in our schools, but she remains loyal and confident. In her quiet way she is a champion to students as she slips them treats, reads stories, and takes time to listen to whoever needs it. So this year we would like to thank Annie Majewicz, our longest working district paraprofessional, by nominating her for the Good Apple Award.

Kate McLaughlin – nominated by the Lyman 1st and 2nd Grade Team

Kate McLaughlin is a very good apple. She always has a warm welcome for everyone entering John Lyman School. No matter how chaotic things might be in the office that day, she still takes a moment to share her bright smile and a thoughtful greeting. The phone and buzzer consistently ring as she kindly lets parents, students, visitors, and forgetful staff into the building. Kate wears many hats, and is willing to take on a wide variety of tasks to make things run smoothly. On any given day you can find Kate busily completing a variety of office tasks, working one on one with students, or providing assistance in the building. Every kindergartener happily begins their time at John Lyman School with a visit with Mrs. McLaughlin. Even though her day is beyond full with tasks to complete, she will drop everything to help a student, make a copy, or retrieve a paper from the machine to save a teacher’s day. Kate is always amazingly helpful, freely shares compliments to brighten your day, and has a good ear to listen when things are challenging. Kate goes above and beyond working well beyond her scheduled hours to make certain things will run smoothly for everyone the next day. John Lyman School would not be the same without her, and the teachers are very grateful for Kate!

Barbara Perigny – nominated by District 13 Secretaries and Transportation Coordinator

She is the best! What I love about Barbara is that she will ALWAYS stop what she is doing, get right on the problem or issue and will never leave you hanging. She handles it right then and there with ALL she has to do. There is no doubt she puts the kids’ safety first! – Pam MacDuff 

Barbara Perigny has always gone above and beyond to make sure bus transportation runs smoothly. Whenever I call her with last minute changes or bus issues she is always willing to go the extra mile to rectify the situation or help accommodate Memorial School’s needs! Both Regional District 13 and DATTCO are so fortunate to have her! – Lynn Davis  

Barbara maintains a calm, friendly and professional approach even when a frantic parent thinks their child was “lost on the way home”. She is able to reassure the parent and us that the child is safe and will be home shortly. She is truly appreciated and an asset to our district. – Eileen Chupron

Barbara is an incredible asset to both District 13 and DATTCO. Her willingness to help both the office staff and parents is nothing short of extraordinary. During our most busy time of the day Barbara communicates between all of the elementary schools, parents and drivers with incredible efficiency. We appreciate Barbara very much. – Darlene Allen

Barbara is not only our colleague she is also our friend. She is always ready to do what is best for kids to keep them safe. Barbara has seen many of us at our worst when we have a parent on the phone line, a teacher on the other, and the bus company on the third, while we try to coordinate getting a child home safely. She knows each route and communicates her concerns about safety to parents and the district. She comes to kindergarten orientation every year and calms new parents about their transportation anxiety. I know I can always count on her because she goes above and beyond to do the right thing for kids. – Patti Checko

Barbara is always there for me when I have a question or bus issue. She is always cool, calm and collected no matter what the issue is. If she doesn’t know the answer right away, she goes out of her way to get the information for you. I have the utmost respect for what her job entails and how well she handles it. – Pat Toth

Barbara and I work so well together. I can always trust that our students’ safety is her greatest concern. She spends many exceptionally long days working at the depot and will not leave until every student is safely home. She knows our streets, our towns, our kids and our concerns. I couldn’t do my job without her support and guidance. She is a true friend to District 13 and most deserving of a Good Apple Award. – Sue Gaudreau

Pat Toth – nominated by the Strong School Purple Team 

A secretary sets the tone for efficiency and climate in any school. We are blessed with one who is not only a consummate professional but also unfailingly kind and patient. She juggles spreadsheets and calendars with more moving parts than an internal combustion engine and yet never fails to put the task down and greet us with a gentle smile when we interrupt her for a form that we were doubtlessly sent at some point but have misplaced. She remembers the names and histories of our children, grandchildren, aging parents, and beloved pets. She maneuvers emergency planning for our classes when we are taken ill during the day and helps send secret emails out to staff to announce surprise showers and celebrations. She is our command central but also our heart. These and many other reasons are why Pat Toth is the core of Strong Middle School and our Good Apple. 

Jane Schmitt – nominated by Mark Basil

Jane has been the high school food service manager for the past fourteen years and I have had the great fortune to have spent the last eight years with her as the food service director. Jane has accepted my perspective and viewpoints on the food service operations with open arms and great support while offering her years of experience and knowledge to help grow and improve the cafeteria experience. We have found a great comfort in each other and I trust her opinion and value her dedication that she gives to her job and this district. All of the hard work that she and her staff up into their jobs was recognized by the students and parents in the Niche nationwide survey that ranked them #3 in Connecticut and #92 in the country for their quality of service.

One of the most challenging parts of running a successful operation is your ability to lead and work with others. She has those skill sets to get the most out of her associates. She also has that personal quality about her that people enjoy interacting with. She expresses a genuine concern for people, always trying to assist in any way to help. That is something that Jane has always brought to RSD 13, her charming personality and love for life. Her bright smile and her glass shattering joy of laughter that echoes throughout the school. You cannot help but to join in on the laughter and smiles.

Jane exemplifies everything that this honor bestows. 

Tammy Stewart – nominated by Jason Korn

Few shape to goodness like Tammy Stewart. Tammy understands implicitly the imperative of patience in the classroom. She holds fast to what is good, what is fair. She is compassionate, cheerful, kind, and scatters loose-leaf those selfsame qualities abroad. Her values abide afresh in her students.

Good Apple Award Winners 2015-16

Good Apple Award Winners 2015-16

Sharon Berndt – nominated by the First and Second Grade Teams

Sharon is a leader and a “Champion of the HOT Schools!”  She is well-spoken about how the arts impact the students’ learning and development.  Sharon leads the way by invigorating those around her with HOT stuff.  As a Co-site coordinator for John Lyman School’s participation in HOT Schools, Sharon goes way above and beyond what is expected.  This past year, Sharon was instrumental in pulling together a grant writing team with other staff members, which lead to a new mural collaboration with Wesleyan University staff and students. This is just one more example of how Sharon is always finding paths to make things happen with artists, staff and children.  She takes initiative over and over again.  Sharon continues to facilitate professional development in school and at other sites.  She has also mentored new artists to help them develop successful collaborations with teachers and students. We think Sharon makes an outstanding contribution of her time, talents and effort.


Nancy Earls – nominated by Lindsay Banas, Emily DelGrego, Renee Brajczewski

Nancy comes to Strong School every day exhibiting the Core Ethical Values of District 13.  She welcomes both teammates and students with the same enthusiasm for learning each day. Her classroom is the hub of the Green Team where the habits of mind are emphasized and the Core Ethical Values exhibited.  Writing workshop is a sight to be seen.  She provides such a nurturing and caring environment for her students to share with each other the writing pieces they do individually.  Nancy’s 8th grade Humanities class inspires critical thought, discussion and active citizenship.  Green Team students know her to be compassionate, supportive, and inspiring.  Nancy is the team’s fearless leader.  She has a natural ability to multitask with such ease that you would never know she has a hundred things on her plate.  Her passion and enthusiasm allow her to balance her commitments and keep her always looking for the next opportunity to help out and get involved. Her door is always open to come in and chat about anything. Her advice is always sound and comes from genuine reflection and concern.  Nancy’s leadership style, a balance of function and fun, of reflection and innovation, brings out the best in each of us.  The Green Team, Strong School and District 13 are so lucky to have her as a teacher, mentor and resident.


Steven Fitzgerald – nominated by Dan Carcaud and Mike Meurs

Steve has exemplified each of the district’s values since his first day stepping into Strong School.  Our maestro walks the halls, constantly hearing praise and good-natured banter from all students – whether in band or not.  Steve showed his responsibility and courage as he went to aid those affected by Superstorm Sandy.  He reinforces the values of being a serviceman each Memorial Day when he brings in his uniform to show his band students what dedication to one’s country is all about.  Steve can often be seen rehearsing early with the jazz band every single school day.  Students are rewarded for their hard work and commitment to coming to school early with donuts, all purchased out of Steve’s generosity.  Steve has supervised a variety of band programs from organizing activities with the Hartford Wolfpack and Six Flags to showing up as the “volleyball wizard” each student-staff game. When student commitments take them away from band lessons, Steve still allows them to meet with him after school for added rehearsals and practice.  Steve has shown us what it means to put your 100% into this profession.


Maureen Johnson – nominated by Franciene Lehmann

Maureen is the epitome of grace under pressure.  She never appears flustered or aggravated, though she deals with nit-picky problems and complaints all day long by virtue of her position. She greets everyone with a smile and a kind word, is timely with her phone calls, and is most efficient in finding obscure information for us when we need it relative to our insurance coverages and paperwork.  We are most appreciative of her attention to detail, her consummate professionalism, and most of all her just plain good eagerness.  It is a comfort to know that we have Maureen to guide us through the intricacies of our insurance plans, and that there is always a gentle word in the midst of what can be a maze of aggravation.


Robert Lawson – nominated by the Brewster School Special Education Staff

Mr. Bobby is a very enthusiastic and dedicated staff member to all faculty and students at Brewster.  He is always smiling and laughing with all.  When we walk into Room 13, we never know what our stuffed animals have been up to all night. Every day when we come in, Mr. Bobby has set up creative, surprising scenes for the students in our room.  We don’t know if they will be fishing, painting, riding a tricycle or reading maps in a geography class.  Bobby’s helpful hands are always working and he is dedicated to the whole school community.


Meg Smith – nominated by the Red Team

Meg is the first person to “grab a glove and get in the game” a phrase she uses frequently.  She will dive into the large trash cans in the cafeteria to reclaim any recyclable bottles or cans discarded by students. She cleans them then brings the bottles and cans to the recycling center to collect the cash refunds that are used, in part, for donations to various local charities and charity fundraisers. Meg is quietly and inconspicuously responsible for so many events at Strong School from the Cheer Fund to the organization, table decorations, sign-up sheet and cooking for the annual Thanksgiving breakfast, to the planning of the end of year staff party, the collection of contributions for the annual gifts for our custodians, as well as other innumerable acts of thoughtfulness and kindness.  Meg does not need to be asked.  She sees what needs to be done and just does it, whether it is last minute bus or detention duty for another teacher, moving heavy computer carts from team to team or joyfully attending Camp Jewell each year so she can get to know the upcoming seventh grade students. She is Strong’s shining, clever, rapier witted, sincerely esteemed historically accurate Good Apple.


Melissa Hoon – nominated by Ann Mallin

Melissa is an important part of the MTA program.  She provides students with individual and group counseling every week.  She has been trained in “social thinking” for students and has incorporated what she has learned not only in her individual and group counseling but also throughout the course of the day.  She has taken a leadership role in coordinating with Wesleyan best buddies and the MTA students and families to provide the students with many social experiences on campus and the Middletown community.  Melissa always goes the extra mile with the students, staff and parents.


Nora Lydon – nominated by Ann Mallin

Nora was hired in March 2003 to teach at the Middlesex Transition Academy which services students with disabilities, ages 18-21 from a variety of school districts on the Wesleyan University campus.  At that time she had one job coach and two students attending the program.  During her tenure from 2003-2015 the program has expanded to include 25 students and 11 staff.  Nora has been instrumental in structuring, organizing, and developing the program to make it the success it is today.  She works well with the students and they really like her as their teacher.  Parents have always been pleased with the MTA program.  Her commitment to the students and their families is evident by all that she does to provide them with a comprehensive transition program.


Sean Regan – nominated by Ann Mallin

Sean was hired as a special education teacher at the MTA in 2011 due to the increased enrollment.  He “jumped on board” and totally committed himself to the MTA, its students and families.  His flexibility and ability to adapt to the changing nature of the program on a daily basis was evident and he quickly learned all aspects of the program and implemented new components as well.  He developed an excellent rapport and an innovative approach in working with students with various disabilities.  Sean also continues to provide guidance and support to the students and their families after school hours and during vacation time.

Teacher of the Year - Noelle Durkin
It is my honor to introduce Regional School District #13’s Teacher of the Year.  I thought a lot about this speech over the summer and mostly before I even knew whom the recipient was.  How would I portray the new Teacher of the Year as eloquently as Greg so kindly did last year?  So I turned to a trusted resource for us all…Google.  Yes, Wikipedia actually has an entry for “Teacher of the Year.”  The entry lists the three areas that a candidate must fulfill in order to be considered for the National Teacher of the Year.  I believe our Teacher of the Year excels in all three areas. 


The first area is that you must have is the respect of colleagues, students and parents.  As a Lead Teacher in her building, this individual has earned the respect of her colleagues and administrator.  When teachers trust a colleague to teach and represent them, this is another sign of respect.  Our Teacher of the Year has shared her love of technology by designing and implementing Teach Camp and building workshops.  She was also asked to represent her grade level at Common Core State Standards writing conferences and has since written ELA standards.  With her students, she gains respect by engaging and connecting with them in her responsive classroom.  Here, she focuses on student centered learning.  According to her administrator, she often receives compliments from both colleagues and parents about the positive climate she embraces and the rapport she has with her students.


The second area is to be an active member of the community.  This individual is not only active herself, but helps her entire school become involved in the community.  The Student Senate the she leads makes donations to local food banks, collects toys for hospitals, and donates to Pennies for Patients yearly.  Using funds collected by this group, she also created a carnival themed event every June that brings faculty and students together to celebrate their accomplishments for the school year.


Finally, to be recognized as the National Teacher of the Year, you must have the ability to inspire children from all backgrounds and abilities.  This is where our Teacher of the Year shines.  Her administrator told me, “Her students will do anything for her because they know that she really loves them.”  By modeling the Core Ethical Values, she has a classroom that embraces individuality while encouraging mutual respect and teamwork.  The words that come to mind when thinking about this teacher are selfless, nurturing, and kind.  She can find the positive in any situation and any student.  She instills a sense of belonging in all members of her classroom.


But we all know that the Teacher of the Year is more than just a list of your accomplishments.  It’s about who you are deep down.  In the infinite wisdom of Dr. Seuss, “Today you are You, that is truer than true.  There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”  And thank goodness you are who you are.  In the 15 years you have been teaching, you inspire students, teacher and families. You connect with everyone around you, and you help us all become better teachers and people.  Thank you for all that you do, everyday.