Panama City Beach - This week's Golden Apple award winner is a reading specialist at Arnold High School in Panama City Beach. Nine times out of ten Golden Apple winners are nominated by students or parents, but this week is unique. Alexis Underwood was nominated by a fellow teacher who says her passion inspires students and colleagues alike.
"I teach the most important thing in the world, reading. Reading is the essential skill for any level of academic reasoning, anything that these children want to accomplish in life, they key that unlocks any door is being able to read," said Alexis Underwood.
Previously in insurance sales, Mrs. Underwood has been teaching intensive reading at Arnold for 7 years. But it's not just students she is teaching. When fellow reading specialist Katie Hair started at Arnold halfway through the school year, she would have felt overwhelmed...if not for Mrs. Underwood. "Alexis came in during Christmas break, made copies, helped me get my room set up, she has been so helpful," said Hair. "As a leader in the school district and a leader in my union that is what we do as professionals, if we don't demonstrate the values that we want our profession to have, then we are not doing our job as educators," said Mrs. Underwood.
Students say her confidence in them makes them want to work harder. "She is always happy and motivates you to do her work," said 10th grader Blair Buckner. "They see her passion for education and it shines through in her instruction," said Arnold High School Principal Keith Bland. "It's not about test scores, its about effort, it's about being willing to try, if they are willing to walk with me all year long, we will achieve our goals, it's inevitable," said Mrs. Underwood.
"She is an amazing teacher and I am glad she won this award," said 10th grader Mario Lobo.