Golden Apple 2024: Caitlin Vanden Wyngaard, Notre Dame Academy – The Press

Golden Apple 2024: Caitlin Vanden Wyngaard, Notre Dame Academy – The Press

Golden Apple Recipient Caitlin Vanden Wyngaard was surprised in her Notre Dame Academy classroom this spring. Submitted photo

BY KRIS LEONHARDT

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

The Greater Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce recently surprised its 2024 Golden Apple recipients in their classrooms. The local teachers were recognized in the areas of professionalism, leadership and innovation.

Leading up to the April recognition event, the Press Times is highlighting these eight honorees.

GREEN BAY – “The most important thing about being an educator is the ability to relate and connect to your students in order to build relationships. When students feel cared for, valued, and safe within the classroom they are more willing to open themselves up and buy into the learning process,” said Golden Apple Recipient Caitlin Vanden Wyngaard.

“It is through building relationships that I am able to meet my students where they are at (in the learning process) and help them grow to reach their full potential while educating and caring for them as a whole person. I know students will not remember every grammatical rule and vocabulary topic I’ve taught them but my hope is they will remember how I made them feel welcomed and valued during their time with me.“

The Notre Dame Academy High School Spanish teacher said that for as long as she can remember, she has always wanted to be an educator.

“I remember as a kid playing school for hours in my parent’s basement with my stuffed animals lined up as students while I wrote lessons on a whiteboard. I knew from a very young age I was going to be a teacher; however, it wasn’t until I got to high school that I decided which subject I would teach.

“Thanks to my high school Spanish teachers, I fell in love with the Spanish language and Spanish-speaking cultures. After a school trip to Costa Rica in my junior year I knew I was destined to teach Spanish.

“I was blessed to have a few really amazing teachers in my life. It was those teachers who inspired me to become an educator. They made learning fun and engaging. They challenged me to never settle for ‘good enough’ and pushed me to strive for my best. These educators went out of their way to make me welcomed and valued within their classrooms. They made me feel like I fit in when often I felt I didn’t.”

Vanden Wyngaard said her favorite thing about being a teacher is working with the students.

“My students inspire me to continue to improve myself as not only an educator but also as a compassionate person,” she said. “They encourage me to stay curious, adapt to new educational methods and continually seek ways to enhance their learning experiences. As teachers, we are planters of seeds, never the master gardener. We may never truly know where those seeds fall, but it is wonderful to see when they bloom.”

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