Crystal Apple Awards for Berthoud teachers

By Dan Karpiel

The Surveyor

Last Friday at the Chilson Center in Loveland, Berthoud educators received recognition with the Thompson Education Association (TEA) Crystal Apple Awards. Ivy Stockwell Elementary fourth-grade teacher Jean Bonnette Baranowski, Emily VanderWall, early childhood education teacher at Berthoud Elementary, Berthoud High School consumer and family studies teacher, Amber Wharton, and Harold Johnson, Ret. Sgt. Major and ROTC instructor at Berthoud High School  were the recipients from Berthoud. Wharton won the overall award for secondary teachers and was awarded $375 for the recognition.

Berthoud Elementary teacher Emily VanderWall.

Friday was the 18th year the TEA has presented the Crystal Apple Awards and, according to their website, “This award celebrates teachers who demonstrate exemplary leadership, innovative teaching, and an active commitment to TEA’s history of positive relationships and collaboration across the school district.”

Schools nominate teachers for the awards. Elementary schools select one teacher, and secondary schools can select up to two. A committee then selects the overall winners, meaning the awards are decided upon by their peers, something both Bonnette Baranowski and Wharton said give the awards added meaning.

“This is great because it is from the staff; I was nominated and voted by our staff here in the building. That’s the biggest award, being recognized by your peers; that’s the real honor,” said Bonnette Baranowski, who has been teaching at Ivy for 16 years, teaching every grade except for kindergarten.

Ivy Stockwell teacher Jean Bonnette Baranowski.

“It’s always nice to be recognized by adults for what I do. To get an award given by peers and by higher-ups does make it more fulfilling. There is reward in this hard job,” said Wharton, who has been teaching at Berthoud High for eight years. “I just feel thankful to be recognized among the Berthoud staff, just to be nominated in general. It’s humbling because we all work really hard and everyone deserves it.”

Both teachers explained they would not have been able to receive this recognition had it not been for the support of their colleagues in their schools. As Bonnette Baranowski explained, “Having a great team behind us and good leadership in our building, that’s encouraging. Berthoud is such a special community to teach in. The parents and the community really, really support education.”

Bonnette Baranowski spoke at length about how helpful and supportive not only her colleagues at Ivy are, but also how helpful her students’ parents and the Berthoud community as a whole has been. She said that level of support is what makes her job so important to her and makes it easier to reach her goals, which are not to win awards, but make positive impacts on the lives on young people.

Berthoud High teachers Amber Wharton and JROTC instructor Herald Johnson

“I was definitely shocked; I didn’t feel I deserved it more than anyone else because everybody works really hard and does awesome things. Everyone up on that stage does amazing things for their students,” Wharton said. “I appreciate the nod to the consumer and family sciences education, so it’s nice to receive recognition for teaching kids these important life skills.”

Wharton, who graduated from Colorado State University and never had any plans to go into education, “because everyone always told me I was going to be a teacher,” she joked, found consumer and family studies and realized she could teach a subject she loves and has a passion for. Having that passion is critical and makes coming to work even on bad days well worth it. At the end of the day, she said, it’s all about impacting the lives of our future leaders.

As Wharton said, “Seeing students accomplish their goals is the most rewarding thing.”

Tags: , , , , , ,