BY JENNIFER CROWLEY
Last month not one, but two, Wheatland-Chili teachers were honored with WROC-TV “Golden Apple” awards. The awards, which highlight excellence in teaching, are handed out based on nominations from school community members across the greater Rochester area.
T. J. Connor Elementary School art teacher Julia Mazzota received her Golden Apple during a surprise visit from WROC-TV (channel 8). She was nominated by her coworker, Gail Strang, who described Mazzota as generous with her time and talents, and always willing to help. “Julia is humble about all the wonderful things she does. She does everything with quite a passion and puts others first.”
News reporter Lia Lando presented Mazzota, who has been teaching at Wheatland for 15 years, with her award on September 13th during a second-grade art class. After Lando asked about the teacher’s seemingly uncanny ability to calm and unify, she replied that, “I try to create a really nice, calm, relaxing classroom. We even listen to music while we work and just have fun.”
A week after her first visit to Scottsville, Lando came back with another award. This time the crew went to the Middle-High School to honor another district art teacher, Megan Melville.
Melville teaches students in 6th, 7th and 8th grades. She was nominated by 7th-grader Madison Baird. “What I like about Mrs. Melville is she’s always kind, she’s caring and teaching isn’t really a job for her because she cares about each and every one of her students equally.” Principal Eric Windover echoed Baird’s words and then lauded Melville for her emotional compassion for the students. “If she sees a student that’s down, kind of out, maybe tearful in the hallway, she will walk right up to them with open arms, ‘oh come here honey’ and just swoop them right in.”
When Lando surprised Melville, she cried tears of joy and shared with the news team that, “I love teaching. I am the 28th teacher in my family so it’s in my blood. It’s the best thing I’ve done and it’s the only thing I could ever do well in life!”
WROC-TV has been handing out Golden Apple awards for more than a decade now. Each year only about 30 local educators receive the honor. Having back-to-back winners within a district and in a single discipline is unusual yet reflective of the caliber of education professionals Wheatland-Chili actively seeks to employ. To learn more about the Golden Apple Award or to nominate a teacher visit www.rochesterfirst.com/goldenappleaward.