The annual Golden Apple Gala culminated at the Reilly Arts Center this weekend with the announcement of Marion County’s Teacher of the Year.
During Saturday’s event, Lindsey Bigelow of Ocala Springs Elementary School was recognized as the 2023 Golden Apple Teacher of the Year.
Bigelow teaches first grade English Language Arts and has a decade of teaching experience, all with Marion County Public Schools.
Prior to the winner being announced at the Gala, Bigelow took the stage and discussed her career. “While it seems cliché, what inspires me most as a teacher are my students. Not just the ones who are with me for 180 days, but my past and future students as well.”
Bigelow attributed her passion for teaching to the fifty teachers that she had the privilege of learning from during her years as an MCPS student. “Just a few weeks ago, I received a card from my very own first grade teacher, Mrs. Lane,” said Bigelow. “I was shocked that she remembered me, and it reminded me of why I became a teacher: to have an impact on students like she had on me.”
Over the last 10 years, Bigelow stated that approximately 200 students have walked into her classroom in August and walked out in May. Bigelow highlighted that many of those former students have asked to come back to visit her classroom and talk to her current students.
According to Bigelow, the 20 students that are currently in her classroom have lit a new fire in her which helps to inspire her to be an even better teacher. “One day, these students will just be visitors in my classroom, but for right now, they are the drive behind my eagerness to continue teaching.”
“I am reminded each day of how blessed I am that families have trusted me with their precious children and that I get to be part of their life,” said Bigelow. “Family is forever, and once a student has been in my class, they are forever part of my family.”
In December 2022, four additional MCPS teachers were surprised with Golden Apples and became finalists for Marion County’s Teacher of the Year: Nedra Huggins (Introduction to Health Sciences teacher at Belleview Middle School), John Gibb (Pre-International Baccalaureate English teacher at Lake Weir High School), Jamie Roche (Art teacher at Maplewood Elementary School), and Cheryl Goldner (Math and Science teacher at Saddlewood Elementary School).
As Marion County’s Teacher of the Year, Bigelow will receive a new, prepaid, three-year leased vehicle from Jenkins Auto Group in Ocala. In addition, she will also be competing for Florida’s 2023 Teacher of the Year award.