Congratulations to Denise Spears for winning this week's Golden Apple

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG) - It's been her passion for more than 40 years; this Golden Apple winner's days in the classroom will soon be coming to an end, but her love of teaching will continue. Congratulations to Denise Spears, a second grade teacher at Tommy Smith Elementary.

Denise Spears has been a teacher for 41 years and has taught hundreds of students in both Gulf and Bay counties.

"I just get so much enjoyment out of it. I just know teaching is my passion and I always say that's what God put me on earth for, is to be a teacher," Spears said.

Spears works to inspire her students and instill important life lessons in each of them.

"I tell my students I'm not trying to prepare you for the next grade level, I'm trying to prepare you for life. So, I want them to leave knowing that they are important, that they are special and allow no one to say that they can't do something that they have a desire to do and to follow their dreams," Spears said.

But at the end of this year, Spears will be hanging up her teaching hat. She says it's bittersweet to be retiring, but she already has plans to continue her passion.

"Well, I''m going to try to find something, volunteer tutoring, not for pay, just to continue...I call it my teaching fix," Spears said.

So, she may not be in a classroom after this year, but her passion will continue for years to come.

If you would like to nominate a teacher for the Golden Apple, click on the Golden Apple tab on our homepage.