The annual Golden Apple Gala culminated at the Reilly Arts Center with the announcement of Marion County’s Teacher of the Year.
During Saturday’s event, Leah Bender of West Port High School was recognized as the 2022 Golden Apple Teacher of the Year.
Bender is currently in her seventh year at West Port High School, and she teaches Advanced Placement (AP) English Literature and Composition, AP Capstone Seminar, and AP Capstone Research.
There were five finalists and Golden Apple recipients for this year’s award. The other finalists included Beth Abel of Lake Weir Middle School, Jennifer Bourque of Harbour View Elementary School, Joanne Houghton of Fort McCoy School, and Hannah Whitston from Madison Street Academy of Arts.
As Marion County’s Teacher of the Year, Bender received a new, prepaid, three-year leased vehicle from Jenkins Auto Group in Ocala. She will also be competing for Florida’s Teacher of the Year award.