Another Cranston teacher has been honored with the Channel 10 Golden Apple Award. Holly Meyer, Honors anatomy and Honors biology educator at Cranston West who received the surprise award on Jan. 28, was stunned as the award team entered her classroom.
"I had no idea what was happening, I was so surprised. At first I thought it was a SALT visit," Meyer said. "They got to see science in action when they were here though. We were in the middle of a Lab Practical, an assessment where the kids had to move all over the room from station to station and they were using all kinds of human bones. It was very lively."
Meyer joked that when she was first handed the Golden Apple award, a golden bell on a stand, she dropped it.
"I thought it was attached," she said, laughing.
Meyer then found out that she was nominated by a former student, Gina Savella, who is currently a biology major at Boston University.
"I had her and her sister; they are two wonderful girls," Meyer said.
A teacher at West for 20 years, Meyer started her career after spending 18 years at home raising her own four children.
"I started the year after my youngest son graduated from Hendricken," she said.
She noted that she comes from a family of educators.
"My mom was a teacher, my sister is a teacher at the elementary level and my other sister is a college professor," she said.
Meyer praises her fellow staff, as well as the students she teaches, for making her teaching days joyful.
"What wonderful people I work with, I can't say enough about the science department here. Every one of them should have a Golden Apple," she said. "And my students, they are such a highly motivated group of kids."
As she speaks, Meyer has her Honors Anatomy class engaged in a game of Anatomy Scrabble, and eating Allie's Donuts, as a reward for a job well done earlier in the week, and as a means of "increasing their anabolic potential." As each game ends, the "loser" plays a player from another team. The students call out anatomical vocabulary, checking with each other and with Meyer, as to their validity for use in the game.
As the class period begins to draw to a close, several students ask if they can stay in the room in order to continue playing through their lunch.
When asked why the students enjoy Meyer and her teaching style so much, Farza Zubair, a senior at West, provides an honest answer.
"You don't have us just look at the words and memorize them. You tell us that this is why we need to learn this," she said.
Meyer says part of her philosophy of learning is tied into teaching 21st century skills, such as teamwork and collaboration.
"This subject matter really lends itself to those types of skills," she said. "I think science teachers by nature have to work enthusiastically and collaboratively.”
Principal Tom Barbieri had compliments for Meyer as well.
"The essence of teaching is a love for children, and that is the model of what she represents here. It's not just about instructing the students; she genuinely loves the students. You come in here any time and the students are smiling and learning," he said. "She can keep them on task; even with all of the fun, there is learning.”
In keeping with her goal of being a lifelong learner, Meyer recently became National Board certified.
“It was a daunting process but it really makes you look at your teaching. I am grateful that I did it," she said, noting that only three science teachers in Cranston are National Board certified, the highest level of certification possible.
Meyer received a $250 grant for use in the classroom.
"It's tough with the budget for the schools so tight. This will really help me get some things," she said.
Meyer said she would like to get some models for her Honors Anatomy classes and some biotech for her biology classes. As class time came to an end, Meyer said she is thankful to Channel 10 and the Rhode Island Department of Education for taking the time to recognize her and those like her in the teaching profession.
"It's a tough time in education,” she said. “As teachers, we take a lot of hits, especially in this economy, but I work with a lot of people who are amazing [and] dedicated to this field."