"Golden Apple" award winner #1 chose passion over paycheck

Panama City- Teaching can be a challenging and thankless job. That's why we're launching a new weekly series to show area teachers how much we appreciate and admire them. Meredith TerHaar had the honor of presenting the first "Golden Apple" award to a deserving teacher at Lucille Moore Elementary School in Panama City Thursday morning.

The 4th and 5th grade classroom for students with autism erupted in applause with this announcement: "Your wonderful teacher Mrs. Rega is our very first Golden Apple award winner." "Wow. Thank you! I'm speechless, I really appreciate this, wow!" said Kim Rega.

Rega teaches autistic 4th and 5th graders. She is fiercely determined to see them succeed. "I don't look at my kids and see them as different from any other students. They just have to have a different set up than other kids need." She uses the latest technology, including computerized reading programs and the Elmo projection system to help them learn.

A former businesswoman, Kim realized her passion wasn't in printing. She took a big cut in pay and prestige, but wouldn't go back. When asked if she found her calling she replies, "Oh gosh, yes."

It's her students who benefit from her courageous choice. "I think she is a cool teacher, she is really funny and fun," said Brandon Robinson. "With autism it was described to me once as each child is a puzzle and it's the teachers job to figure out how to unlock their potential and Mrs. Rega is an expert at that," said Lucille Moore Principal Kathleen Schmidt.

If you'd like to nominate a teacher just log onto wjhg.com and click on the "Golden Apple" section. We'll select one winner each week and feature their story every Thursday on Newschannel 7 at 5:00PM, and again on Friday morning at 6:00. The "Golden Apple" award is made possible by John Lee Nissan/Mazda.


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