The Golden Apple Award was started 14 years ago as a way to honor teachers because there is no job more important than that of a teacher. WTHI, News Channel 10, thought the Golden Apple would be a good way to honor teachers within the viewing area. One of this year's recipients is Northview High School Choir Director Steve McCullough.
The 23-year teacher chose the field because he thought all his teachers were good role models.
McCullough says that the highlight of his school day was in music class and that throughout his school career music class was always a good experience. In the first grade McCullough began taking piano lessons which kept him surrounded by musical influences Francis Wyndham, Charlotte Pickett, and Nancee South. He started perfecting his ivory-tickling talents in front of the congregation of the Ashboro United Methodist Church as the featured music and playing for the children's Sunday school class. Add these two factors and you get an award-winning choir director.
McCullough said his favorite part about being a teacher is the everyday interaction with the children, when a new music piece begins to come together, the camaraderie the kids have with one another, and observing how excited and nervous they are before a performance.
Anyone can nominate a teacher. Seniors Ashlee Vitz and Schyler Brinson of the Knight Singers choir each submitted a nomination for McCullough. Adding McCullough to the list of 130 nominees. Brinson came up with the idea because he has known McCullough since he was young and attributes his inspiration to be a musician and play the piano to his choir director. Vitz, a four-year member of the NHS choir, then followed his lead. "He is a great friend, a wonderful musician, and everything a teacher should be."
From the 130, a panel of past winners and sponsor representatives pick teachers they would like to interview. After the interviews the panel narrows it down to 10 finalists and then five winners. Finalists receive a Golden Apple plaque and winners receive a Golden Apple along with monetary and other prizes.
In years past, Channel 10 anchor, Mark Allen would surprise winners by showing up at their school unannounced. This year a formal ceremony was held at the Indiana Theater bringing all the finalists and friends and family members into the act.
Allen states, "Steve was highly recommended and I can see why the judges chose him because he is so involved in the music program."
Thirty NHS students attended the ceremony. Vitz said they made a vow to be sophisticated and classy by simply clapping if McCullough won. However, when his name was called they all jumped out of their seats screaming with excitement.
McCullough was overwhelmed when his name was called as the first recipient of the Golden Apple. He said that he had himself convinced he was not going to win and was very nervous prior to the event. He had a card in his pocket with a few words jotted down for an acceptance speech just in case. The card ended up coming in handy when he thanked his students for the nomination, his parents for their support and dedication, and friends and family.