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Clough’s Esther Willinski Awarded Golden Apple Award

Esther Willinski, 3rd Grade Spanish Immersion Teacher at Clough Elementary School was named the recipient of the second Mendon Upton Regional School District Golden Apple Award. She was presented with the award at the June 20 School Committee Meeting.

Clough Elementary School's 3rd grade Spanish Immersion Teacher Esther Willinski, was chosen as the second recipient of the Mendon Upton Regional School District Golden Apple Award.

A new program in the district this school year, the Golden Apple Award was developed to "acknowledge and celebrate excellence" in the Mendon Upton district. Parents and students had the opportunity twice this year to nominate a staff member who has made a positive difference in their child's life, either past or present. The nominations are vetted and a finalist is chosen by a subcommittee made up of School Committee Members, administrators and parents.

In January, Miscoe Hill School's 6th Grade ELA teacher Caterina Manser received the first ever Mendon Upton Golden Apple Award.

"It is such a great feeling when we are given the opportunity to acknowledge greatness in our district," said School Committee Chairperson Diane Duncan during the June 20 Committee Meeting where they announced the spring award. "I feel so honored once again to be the one who gets to brag about our second recipient for this award."

Duncan said that there were "a wealth of nominations" sent in during the time period for entries, even with the high demands of parent's time during the end of the school year.

"It was so moving for the subcommittee to read all of the narratives that parents and students wrote about how many staff members are touching lives, exceeding expectations and making a difference," said Duncan. "I would love to be able to award every teacher in our district...but the Golden Apple seeks to recognize one individual whose contributions set them apart."

Duncan went on to read some of the excerpts from the nominations that were sent in to honor Willinski.

"[Senora Willinski] has challenged students to always be critical thinkers and to require creativity, enthusiasm and definitely determination," read one nomination.

"She reinforced the role of teacher as part of my son's village and she guided me with suggestions on how to best support his ongoing learning at home," read another.

Many nominations mentioned her unique student de-stressing techniques she uses in her classroom including "mindful meditation" as well as her effective communication with parents.

"[Willinski] has a loving way of interacting with each of her students that would make any student look back years from now and remember her as one of their best teachers ever," read Duncan as the final excerpt.

"With our sincere expression of thanks for the excellence she brings to her job, it is with great joy and respect that we present this 2nd Golden Apple Award to Esther Willinski," she said.

Willinski was surrounded by family and coworkers as she accepted her award.


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