The Apple Awards are awards that are meant to recognize staff who have gone above and beyond to contribute immensely to their schools, and Douglas County Schools in general. This year, Jeanette DiGennaro and Marie McClanahan were the two staff members who were nominated to represent HR at the awards.
Each year, The Foundation for Douglas County Schools, who hosts the awards, receives thousands of nominations for possible winners. The nominations can come from a wide variety of people, from teachers to parents to students. Teachers and administration at each school then pick two members to represent their school at the awards, and then a small committee, picked by The Foundation, makes the final decisions of who the winners are.
The awards provide “an opportunity to recognize and celebrate excellent teachers and the outstanding contribution of Douglas County School District staff,” according to the Douglas County website for the Apple Awards.
The awards are given to two groups of school staff: those who are “certified” and those who are “classified”. If a staff member is considered “certified”, it means that they have a license to do their job, while a “classified” position doesn’t require a license, and they are support staff.
Marie McClanahan, secretary for the special education department, was one of the representatives for our school. She is a classified staff member, and her job includes a wide variety of things.
“What I do, for special education, is I make sure they comply with federally mandated deadlines and requirements from reevaluations or annual meetings,” McClanahan said. “I make sure that, during testing, the students have the correct accommodations. I also do substituting of classes, as needed. I make sure that all the compulsory attendees are where they need to be.”
This is the third time she has been nominated for the awards, but she still finds it humbling to be on the list of nominees.
“The reason why I feel humbled is because when I’m talking to the staff, they know me because they saw a picture on my email, not because I’m actually at the meetings,” McClanahan said. “And I tell them ‘You have to be at this appointment’ or ‘I need a report from you’. It’s not warm and fuzzy stuff that I usually get to talk to them about.”
Jeanette DiGennaro, department chair of special education and moderate needs teacher/learning specialist, was also nominated for the awards.
When DiGennaro found out she had been nominated, she, too, felt humbled. “If you look at the people on that list, there are some phenomenal teachers listed on there, as well as other staff members. So, it is humbling, and knowing that my colleagues voted for me, it means a lot.”
There will be a ceremony held on April 21, where both of the nominees from each school gather and wait for the winners of the awards to be announced.
“I don’t think teachers as a whole get enough recognition. We really don’t anywhere I’ve worked,” DiGennaro said regarding the importance of the awards. “I just think that, across the board, people think our job is pretty easy, but it’s not.”
Kathryn Lopez, Staff Reporter