The Upper Arlington Civic Association presented the Golden Apple Award to language arts and film teacher Leah Miller and Band Director Todd Fessler.
BY JAMES UNDERWOOD, ’23. GRAPHIC BY LUCY O’BRIEN, ’22. PHOTO BY BELLA VANMETER, ’22.
On April 11, the Upper Arlington Civic Association (UACA) announced its 2022-23 Golden Apple Awards. The honor was given to teachers in the various schools, both public and private, throughout UA. English and film teacher Leah Miller won the UAHS award, which was announced during 3rd period.
The UACA directors, donning their signature golden jackets, trickled into Miller’s third period Books and Cinema class to present the award. The procession of director and the subsequent awards surprised Miller.
“I was completely shocked, because it was right in the middle of class and Mr. Theado walked in,” Miller said. “And then he had a very long trail of people wearing the golden jackets from the Civic Association.”
Those directors then read statements from Miller’s nominations.
“[Dr. Miller] commands respect by giving respect, and every student wants to be their best to make her proud,” one nominator wrote.
Also present at the ceremony was Principal Andrew Theado, who called the award “well-deserved.”
“Dr. Miller is an amazing teacher. We’re very fortunate to have her,” Theado said. “She puts her heart and soul into her classroom.”
Senior Kendall Crotty, who is enrolled in Miller’s 4th period IB Film Analysis class, agreed.
“You can tell that she’s truly passionate about everything that she’s teaching,” Crotty said.
After Miller was presented with the award, the UACA directors drove to Hastings Middle School to give UAHS band director Todd Fessler a Golden Apple. Fessler received the award given to district-wide employees as he teaches at both UAHS and Hastings. Like Miller, Fessler was surprised to receive the award.
“I’m definitely blown away by the award, and very thankful, very appreciative of the parents and the students that took the time to write such nice things about me,” Fessler said. “I don’t do what I do for a trophy or for an accolade.”
Senior Georgia Rehl, a trumpet player in the band and one of four student officers, spoke to her experiences in the band under Fessler’s direction.
“My favorite thing about band is just the community,” Rehl said. “It’s like a 150-person family, and he just does such a great job bridging us all together.”
The UACA directors read aloud nominations for Fessler sharing a similar sentiment.
“Mr. Fessler always comes to school with great positivity and energy,” one nomination stated. “I’ve never seen a teacher care about their students the way Mr. Fessler does.”
Theado, for his part, applauded Fessler.
“Mr. Fessler is an amazing teacher,” he said. “I think he serves our kids very well and is always looking out for their best interests, and I think that’s why he got that award.”
The Golden Apple Awards have been given out yearly since 1981. The award is run by the UACA, the non-profit community organization that is also responsible for, among other things, the Independence Day fireworks and the Bare Scare at Smith Park.
“[Teachers] are genuinely touched that they’ve been recognized in this way,” Angela Lanctot, the UACA director in charge of the award, said. “They just are always very overwhelmed by it.”
This year, the UACA received 553 different nominations, including one for Ferris the dog, according to Lanctot. Miller and Fessler, Lanctot said, “both had a large amount of nominations.”
In addition to Miller and Fessler, the other 2022 awardees were Kelli Wilcox, kindergarten teacher at Barrington; Mary Rappaport, paraprofessional at Greensview; Chris Lape, orchestra teacher at Jones Middle School; Amanda Walton, English teacher at Hastings; Julia Redmond, nurse at St. Agatha; Michele Faehnle, nurse at St. Andrew; Angela Morway, kindergarten teacher at Tremont; Emily Szabo, second grade teacher at Wellington; Felice Kassoy, guidance counselor at Wickliffe; and Jodi Palmer, P.E. teacher at Windermere.