Freedom Federal Credit Union recently recognized eight educators from Harford and Baltimore counties with its 2022 Golden Apple Educator Awards.
A reception was held for the winners at Freedom’s Mountain Branch in Joppa on Aug. 5.
Jeanne Mackowiak and Stacey Durkovic are the grand-prize winners of the awards grant competition. Mackowiak is an art teacher at Edgewood Middle School and plans to use her $2,000 grant to create a fine arts gallery in the school lobby. Durkovic, assistant principal at Martin Boulevard Elementary School in Middle River, was awarded a $2,000 grant to provide health and wellness kits to families in need. The kits include first aid kits, thermometers, and lice treatments.
“We are grateful to be supporting these eight incredible educators,” said Mike MacPherson, president and CEO of Freedom Federal Credit Union. “They are an excellent representation of our long-standing partnership with Harford County Public Schools, a relationship that continues to thrive; and our new partnership with Baltimore County Public Schools, for which we look forward to continued growth.”
Awards of $1,000 were presented to Brittney Horan of Churchville Elementary School and Kathy Flannery of St. Stephen School in Kingsville, both teachers who emphasize science in their respective schools. Horan plans to use her award to develop a hydroponic garden in her school’s outdoor classroom. Flannery plans to use her grant funds towards the creation of a new STEM makerspace featuring technology that allows kids to integrate everyday objects into circuitry and inventions.
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Ben Richardson, assistant superintendent for human resources at Harford County Public Schools thanked Freedom for hosting the Golden Apple Awards for the past 11 years. “That’s 11 years of direct support to our HCPS teachers and staff, who, thanks to your partnership, have been given an opportunity to explore new ways to educate and support the HCPS community,” said Richardson.
Four additional recipients were awarded grants. In Harford County, $500 grants were awarded to Laura Hahn, history teacher at Havre de Grace Middle School and PACE Club coordinator; and Colleen Kavanagh, librarian and gifted and talented teacher at Norrisville Elementary School. In Baltimore County, Ashley Montalvo, resource teacher at Martin Boulevard Elementary School, and Brocha Siff, consulting teacher for Baltimore County Public Schools, were each awarded $500 grants to fund their respective initiatives.
Hahn plans to expand the PACE Club’s pantry which currently supports middle and high school families in need. This family support means elementary students are impacted, too. Kavanagh will be using her award to introduce coding robots to her lessons and plans to lead interdepartmental training for cross-curricular applications.
Montalvo plans to purchase number counting racks called rekenreks and other resources that help elementary youth understand math through tactile exercises and projects. Siff plans to initiate a new program designed to retain and support new math teachers in Baltimore County Public Schools.
The annual awards are intended to support Freedom Federal Credit Union members who are employed at a Harford or Baltimore County school and have a creative vision for education that can only be met with community support. Applicants submitted an essay demonstrating how their idea would serve their students, class, school or local community.
Because of Freedom’s recent expansion from Harford County into Baltimore County, the credit union doubled its grant awards from four to eight, with four awards in each county. Golden Apple Award applications are evaluated by a panel of judges made up of Freedom employees, community leaders and representatives from the Harford and Baltimore County school systems.
“Congratulations to the eight educators,” Darryl Williams, superintendent for Baltimore County Public Schools, said at the event. “It was my honor to listen to your creative ideas for your classrooms and our schools in both Harford and Baltimore counties.”