The Golden Apple goes to Richard Gaither

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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - This week's Golden Apple winner once taught for an entire year without being able to speak, and his students passed their IB exams. Congratulations to Richard Gaither, a U.S. history teacher at Rutherford High School.

Richard Gaither started off our interview by saying this, "I heard a long time ago that the worst students make great teachers."

Gaither is the first to admit he was a terrible student. "We moved around a lot as a kid," he explained. "I failed everything."

At the age of 16 Gaither was kicked out of 8th grade.

"I decided I was going to starve to death if I didn't get my act together," said Gaither. "So I started doing my school work, graduated when I was 19, and decided to be a teacher. "

According to Gaither, the struggle to get to where he is today made him a better educator. "You know I understand if they don't get it. I understand if their struggling."

His successful teaching career hasn't been smooth sailing. In 2015, life threw him a curve ball. After surgery he lost his voice for whole year.

"I thought well I can take an extended leave, or I could figure out how to get power points to talk." And that's exactly what he did.

Gaither was able to speak to this students through a computer program. To keep it interesting he nicknamed the program "Swag Daddy."

"At the end of the year I had IB students pass their exams," said Gaither. "And my U.S. history students passed their exams. So it was highly effective. "

Gaither provides an example to his students that no matter how hard life gets, if you keep trying, success is within reach.

If you'd like to nominate a teacher for the Golden Apple award, click the "Golden Apple" tab at the top of our website.