Clarke Community Schools has a lot to be proud of, but yesterday they really raised the bar, demonstrating the pride our students have in their school, and in their teachers.

Twenty-two years ago, WHO-TV 13 and Nationwide Insurance started asking students at all grade levels to tell them about teachers that they felt deserved special recognition, and the Golden Apple Award was born. Each month, anywhere from 15-30 teachers are nominated by their students, because there are many deserving teachers around the state of Iowa. Students send in letters all year long, and once a month, WHO and Nationwide select one teacher. It isn’t uncommon for two or three students to nominate the same teacher, but this month, one Clarke Community Schools teacher received an unprecedented 68 nominations!

Michelle Lee, Middle and High School Math Teacher, was surprised with the award at an assembly on December 1st, leaving her nearly speechless.

“Thank you! I don’t know what else to say,” Michelle said. “You guys are all so special to me. Sometimes you just don’t think you make a difference and this just means the world to me! Thank you, all of you. I love you all!”

Michelle has been teaching for 22 years, making Clarke Schools her home for the last 15 years. Her win was made possible by a ‘campaign’ launched by three 8th grade students who encouraged others to share their stories about Ms. Lee and to help give her the recognition she deserves.

“We have so many deserving teachers here, I wasn’t even in the running,” Michelle said after the assembly. “I guess what I always do is I just offer my time before school, after school, to the kids. If they have questions you gotta be available for them, and give them more life lessons than just math lessons.”

Thank you to Nationwide Insurance and WHO TV13 for bringing this award to Clarke Community Schools. Thank you Bailey Smith, Dakota Stanley and Kyra Walters for your hard work on gathering support to make this happen. And thank you Ms. Michelle Lee for being such an inspiration to your students and creating such admiration as to set the most astounding nomination record in the history of the Golden Apple Award!

Watch WHO TV13 News to see more on this story.