2017 Golden Apple Gala

Marion County proudly announces its 2017 Teacher of the Year this Friday in a Golden Apple Gala black-tie event.
This year’s five finalists recently received surprise classroom visits from the Golden Apple caravan including Superintendent Dr. Heidi Maier, Public Education Foundation Executive Director Judi Zanetti, School Board Members Kelly King and Beth McCall, and dozens of other district and community representatives.
This year’s five Golden Apple recipients now vie to become Marion County’s Teacher of the Year. The Golden Apple Gala is coordinated by the Public Education Foundation of Marion County, which sponsors the Golden Apple program.
Golden Apple recipients have at least four years of classroom teaching experience while rookies have three years or less.
Marion County’s 2017 Golden Apple teachers include:
· Jennifer Thomas, a media specialist at Belleview Middle School. She joined Marion County Public Schools in 2010 and earned her Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood / Elementary Education from Florida Southern College.
· Annie Shepherd, a kindergarten teacher at Dr. NH Jones Elementary. She joined MCPS in 2010 and holds three Bachelor of Science degrees from Florida Southern College and a master’s in Early Childhood Education from Florida State University. She is working toward a second master’s degree in Educational Leadership.
· Diego Fuentes, a music teacher at Hillcrest School. He joined the district in 2002 and earned his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Illinois, Urbana.
· Smokie West, a teacher of the Young Parenting Program at Marion Technical College. She joined the district in 2011 and earned her Bachelor of Applied Management and master’s of Business Administration degrees from Grand Canyon University. She is currently working on her Doctorate of Business Administration from the same institution.
· Cacee Ford, an agriculture teacher at West Port High School. Having joined the district in 2014, she holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Florida.
Meantime, Stanton-Weirsdale Elementary’s John Liquori is Marion County’s 2017 Rookie Teacher of the Year. He will also speak at Friday night’s event. He is a fifth-grade and first-year Marion County teacher with a Bachelor of Arts in History and master’s in Childhood Education, both from the State University of New York at Potsdam.
Marion County’s 2017 Teacher of the Year will be announced during the event broadcast live from On Top of the World’s Circle Square Cultural Center in Ocala. Marion County’s 2017 Teacher of the Year will also receive a pre-paid, three-year lease on a new Kia Soul from Jenkins Auto Group in Ocala.
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