If you peeked into Martin Walker Elementary teacher Emily Apolinar’s classroom prior to Spring Break, you would see her engaging students with a well-planned lesson. You would see students in workstations, practicing skills she has taught.
You may see her with a small group at the back table, working on individual student needs. You would also hear laughter, as the students enjoy themselves while working hard. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Apolinar is now teaching her students remotely through online and material resources. Regular phone calls and video conferences with students and parents are keeping them connected and keeping students’ learning.
School Principal Earl Parcell selected Apolinar as the Martin Walker Elementary Rookie Teacher of the Year.
“Mrs. Apolinar is a worker. She spends countless hours at school planning and preparing so that her job isn’t just done, but that it’s done well,” Parcell said. “She has embraced her responsibilities as a brand new teacher with great energy. She does not wait for what she doesn’t know, instead she seeks out answers. She is a self-starter and exercises instinctive initiative.”
Parcell says Apolinar has simultaneously dedicated herself to get to know her students.
“Mrs. Apolinar goes above and beyond to make phone calls home, sends home personalized notes, and also emails parents for positive as well as negative purposes,” Parcell said. “Service-oriented, selflessness and self-efficacy are qualities that cast Mrs. Apolinar as a stand out teacher.”
Parcell said Apolinar cares about the growth and success of her students. She takes pride in knowing her students’ likes and dislikes and she will go to great lengths to make students feel comfortable and accepted regardless of their backgrounds or academic prowess
“Mrs. Apolinar is a very student-centric teacher. Her classroom has a family-like atmosphere. Her classroom is extremely dynamic, full of warmth, care and laughter,” Parcell said. “She will do whatever it takes, even if it means more work for her, to implement or provide support or assistance to students so long as they will benefit.
“When students struggle, the first thing Mrs. Apolinar does is evaluate what she could have done better. Mrs. Apolinar can always be found working with her students. She never takes time off. She can always be found supporting or challenging them to grow. Mrs. Apolinar recognizes what researchers have concluded many times; the single greatest school-related factor that impacts student learning is the teacher and Mrs. Apolinar is working daily to grow as a teacher for her students.”