At a reception last month, Freedom Federal Credit Union honored Kathleen Ford, as the grand prize winner of the Credit Union’s 2018 Golden Apple Annual Educator Award competition.
Ford, who is a music teacher at John Archer School, won the top $2,000 prize for her plan to better connect students with disabilities through music and song. The John Archer School is Harford County’s separate public day school serving students with severe and profound special needs, ages three through twenty-one.
Ford’s submission detailed an inspirational vision for reaching students with differing abilities through the power of music. Part of the award will be used to purchase a complete set of Music K-8 magazines and CDs, selected to allow older students with developmental delays to be more successful in chorus, while at the same time positioning John Archer School to become a central lending library for Music K-8.
Ms. Ford also has selected a variety of adapted instruments and aids for use with her class, school-wide assemblies, drama productions, and for teachers looking to incorporate music therapy into their lessons.
Ford, in collaboration with one of the school’s speech language pathologists, Jen Cashour, is seeking to introduce a Beamz Life Skills device and software into her curriculum, acccording to a news release. This groundbreaking system uses “eye gaze” equipment to allow students with severe physical challenges to produce music independently, something they cannot physically do without the technology.
Although a record number of submissions were received this year, Freedom Federal said it was Ford’s thoughtfulness and creativity in considering how the award could affect positive change for her students, school, and community that made her application standout from the rest.
Two other winners were selected in the competition: Jacob Bennett, a kindergarten teacher at Havre de Grace Elementary, and Tara Recor, a gifted and talented resource teacher at Prospect Mill and Halls Cross Roads Elementary schools. Both Bennett and Recor will receive $500 each to fund initiatives at their respective schools.
At Havre de Grace Elementary, Bennett has started a beautification project that goes beyond landscaping and a fresh coat of paint. He works collaboratively with other staff and teachers to transform educational spaces into imaginative environments that offer students themed educational experiences.
His own kindergarten classroom has already been meticulously transformed into an outer space retreat, and the hallways are filled with positive “be” statements all around the school, so that students are reminded daily to “be kind,” “be creative” and “be relentless.”
As a gifted and talented resource teacher at Prospect Mill and Halls Cross Roads elementary schools, Recor recognizes the daily struggle for gifted students to find appropriate education.
She will be using her award to send more school teachers and administrators to the Maryland Educators of Gifted Students Annual Conference, which will introduce more local educators to the tools and methodology behind shaping challenging, talent-developing lessons.
Mike MacPherson, Freedom Federal Credit Union’s President and CEO, emceed the reception for the Golden Apple Awards recipients on June 22.
”Freedom is dedicated to providing support and resources to our Harford County schools, administrators, and faculty,” he said. “What an honor it is for us to play a part in helping these teachers see their great ideas put into action”.
The annual competition is intended to support Freedom Federal Credit Union members who are employed through Harford County Public Schools and have a creative vision for education that can only be met with community support.
All applicants were asked to submit an essay demonstrating how their idea would serve their students, class, school and the Harford County community. Entries were judged by a panel of Freedom employees, board members, and community leaders.