(WETM) – The Golden Apple Award is a recognition for educators in the Twin Tiers, whose impact extends well beyond the walls of their classroom.

Evelyn Guyette has been teaching in the Elmira City School District for 18 years, beginning her career as an upper-elementary school teacher before transitioning to kindergarten. She grew up as a camp counselor and found a love for teaching and working with kids. She turned this passion into an extended tenure in Elmira.

“I love the energy in kindergarten. It is fun. It is fast paced. The kids always keep me on my toes,” she said with a laugh. “We definitely sing and dance a lot even through this year.”

This year has been challenging for teachers at all grade levels. While older students have struggled to adjust, younger students have had to develop a foundation for their future studies through the computer. Despite these challenges, Ms. Guyette remains positive.

“I want school to be fun for the kids. I want them to feel comfortable here, and I want them to know that school is a fun, safe place where they can learn and grow,” she added.

Many educators have had to change their approach to learning, transitioning to online education. Ms. Guyette divides her lessons into smaller chunks for her students, while providing a fun kindergarten experience.

“We do our morning meeting. We do our ELA lesson and then we do our math lesson. I try and make hands-on games with the kids that we can practice together for their skills and then they can practice with their families,” she continued.

Kindergarten is usually very active in Ms. Guyette’s classroom. She wanted to make sure her students were equipped with the supplies they needed to do crafts and other activities. Through various supply pick-ups, Ms. Guyette provides activities they can engage in over Zoom.

“In some of the pickups that we’ve done, we’ve provided school supplies, books, and workbooks that they might need, but we also made two craft projects for each month. Just fun things that we would be doing here in the classroom,” she said.

This week, Ms. Guyette will welcome students back into her classroom for the first time in more than a year.

“It is a wonderful and long awaited journey to get to this point to have kids back into my classroom,” she added.

Her impact on her students goes beyond her classroom, uniting former students with current students for reading days. Winning this award shows her impact on her students, both past and present.

“It means a lot because while I only have these kids for 180 days, they’re always forever in my heart. They stick with me forever,” she concluded. “I see them around. They’ll come up to me. They’ll say ‘Hi’. It just means so much that they still remember me from back from kindergarten.”

To nominate an educator, click here.