“Students who have a positive relationship with their teacher and feel valued by their teacher are more motivated and have a desire to learn.” These are the words of Mary Alcoke, the 2023 Golden Apple Teacher of the Year, presented by the Roanoke County Public Schools Education Foundation.
Alcoke, who is celebrating her 30th year in education, is a first-grade teacher at Penn Forest Elementary School. She says in addition to regular instruction, she works to help her students know how to listen to one another and be respectful of each other’s differences. As the 2023 Golden Apple Teacher of the Year, Alcoke becomes the nominee from Roanoke County Public Schools for the 2025 Virginia Teacher of the Year Award.
In addition, the RCPS Education Foundation announced the winners of the Red Apple Award – the top teachers at the elementary, middle and high school levels. The 2023 Red Apple Award winners are:
Heather Wray – Kindergarten teacher at W.E. Cundiff Elementary
Karen Perry – science teacher at Northside Middle School
Chris Overfelt – motorsports and welding instructor at the Burton Center for Arts & Technology
The Education Foundation also recognizes the outstanding teacher with three years or less experience with the Green Apple Award. The 2023 Green Apple Award Winner is Ryan Adams, a science teacher at William Byrd High School.
Thanks to a sponsorship from Southern Team Auto, the Golden Apple Teacher of the Year received a check for $1000. The Red and Green Apple winners received a check for $500 each.
“We received more than 60 nominations that were ultimately narrowed down to 17 finalists,” said Joseph Higginbotham, president of the RCPS Education Foundation.
“Several Foundation Board members, including myself, served on the selection committee and watched each video submitted by our finalists. The selection process was very difficult, and the committee had a hard time selecting our final winner. We are extremely blessed to have so many outstanding teachers in our schools,” Higginbotham said.
“We are thankful to the Education Foundation for their continued support of our students and teachers,” said Dr. Ken Nicely, superintendent of Roanoke County Public Schools. “We have so many amazing and inspirational people at Roanoke County Public Schools and we’re grateful to all our teachers for their continued dedication,” Dr. Nicely said.