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School Specialty Announces Winners of the 2024 Crystal Apple Awards Celebrating Inspirational Teachers

The winners of the annual contest receive a personalized trophy, a $500 gift certificate to spend at School Specialty, and a $250 gift certificate for their school 

School Specialty, a leading provider of learning environments and supplies to the pre-K–12 education market, today announced the 2024 winners of its annual Crystal Apple Awards, which celebrate teachers who embody inspiration, leadership, and passion in teaching.

Each year, students, parents, administrators, fellow teachers, family, and friends nominate teachers who go above and beyond to touch the lives of students every day. School Specialty selects 10 finalists from the nominees, and three winners are then selected by public vote. School Specialty received a record 611 nominations this year, nearly doubling last year’s total. This year’s winners will each receive a personalized trophy and a $500 gift certificate from School Speciality for themselves, as well as a $250 School Specialty gift certificate for their school. They are:

  • Typhani Russo, from Commonwealth Charter Academy in Harrisburg, PA, is the founder of Bookworms Against Bullies, a nonprofit that inspires students with stories of overcoming bullying;
  • Mercedes Salas from Uvalde Elementary School in Uvalde, TX, whose constant love, kindness, and support has impacted so many students; and
  • Julie Pfeifer from Abraxas School of Ohio in Mansfield, OH, who has launched a book club, an auto body club, and a 3D printing club as she sought to engage students using their own interests, and written curricula for new courses, allowing students to earn certificates they can use after graduation.

To read the full stories of this year’s winners, visit SchoolSpecialty.com.

Having witnessed firsthand the immense efforts and lifelong impact educators have on students, I am profoundly honored to be part of the Crystal Apple Awards,” said Sue Ann Highland, PhD, the national education strategist at School Specialty. “Teachers serve as the cornerstone of our education system, wholeheartedly devoting themselves to crafting enriching experiences and safe havens for our students. Recognizing their dedication and exceptional contributions is extremely important, and one of the most rewarding aspects of my role at School Specialty.”

Finalists for the Crystal Apple Awards receive a $100 School Specialty merchandise certificate for themselves and an additional $100 certificate for their school. This year’s finalists are:

  • Lisa Longino from Mayfair Elementary in South Euclid, OH;
  • Claudette Henson from Creative Environment Day School in Fayetteville, NY;
  • Debra Cline from Manatee School For the Arts in Palmetto, FL;
  • Holli Herndon from Pleasant Grove Elementary in Inverness, FL;
  • Meghan Bodie from Edison Elementary School in Milan, OH;
  • Kaylie Morgan from Uwharrie Charter Academy in Star, NC; and
  • Michelle Morgan from Nichols Elementary in Huntington, WV.

To learn more about the Crystal Apple Awards, please visit SchoolSpecialty.com.

The American Consortium for Equity in Education, publisher of the "Equity & Access" journal, celebrates and connects the educators, associations, community partners and industry leaders who are working to solve problems and create a more equitable environment for historically underserved pre K-12 students throughout the United States.

Current issue of Equity & Access:


Equity & Access - Issue 28

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