Champions for Learning announced recently that RCMA teacher Michael Gonzalez, Immokalee Community Academy, is a 2022-2023 Teacher of Distinction for Collier County. As part of the Golden Apple Teacher Recognition Program, each school in the Collier County Public School system has the opportunity to nominate a teacher on behalf of their school. From this group of 60 Teachers of Distinction from 58 Collier County schools, Champions For Learning’s community-based selection committee identifies the Golden Apple recipients.
For Mr. Gonzalez, he was caught off-guard by the nomination. “It made me feel great and nervous at the same time,” he explains. “I strive to do my best every day, and to set an example for my students to also try their best and try new things, no matter how scary and new they might be.”
A Teacher of Distinction is one who is willing to share their best practice with the community and other teachers, and has a best practice that results in demonstrable student success. As a nominee, Gonzalez will be observed by a board of 10 selected visitors to discern his best practices. “I’ll show them how I teach math through chanting and various other practices that involve a lot of attention to student data,” he said.
When his students heard of the nomination, they gave him some helpful advice.
“My student reactions were very excited,” he says. “They continuously remind me to try my best and tell me what I always tell them, ‘Did you try your best? Then that’s all you can do!’”
Fellow teacher Amy Facundo nominated Gonzalez for the honor. “It took a lot but she convinced me to accept the nomination and begin the Golden Apple process,” said Gonzalez. “She informed me because of the dedication and attention that I have for my students that I should accept the nomination. I am so honored.”
Each Teacher of Distinction has the opportunity to share their ideas and practices across the county with their colleagues and the community through the Golden Apple process.
A community-based committee meets each Teacher of Distinction and learns about their best practice throughout the process, eventually selecting six teachers (three elementary and three secondary) to highlight as Golden Apple recipients.
The Teachers of Distinction and the Golden Apple recipients will be honored at the Annual Golden Apple Celebration of Teachers Dinner, presented by Suncoast Credit Union, on May 12, 2023 at The Naples Grande Beach Resort. Good luck, Mr. Gonzalez!