Jen Sampson, classroom facilitator at Hydetown Elementary, received quite a surprise when members of JET 24 showed up to her classroom on Jan. 22.
Two of Sampson’s 5th-grade learners had nominated their teacher for the Golden Apple Award for going above and beyond for her students. The video of Sampson being presented the award aired on Jan. 29.
The rules for the Golden Apple Nominations are for the teacher who makes a difference in their students’ lives and made them want to learn.
“You can give something back to that teacher who has given you so much. Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and JET 24 want to reward teachers who are going above and beyond the standard,” the rules stated.
“I was completely surprised,” Sampson said. “The day that the TV station came, I had no idea. All the kids in the building seemed to know it, everybody else knew it, but I was shocked when they entered my classroom.
“They knew that they had really touched my heart. The letter they wrote, it melted my heart,” she said.
Sampson has been employed with the Titusville Area School District for 25 years. She worked in Pleasantville for 12 years before coming to Hydetown, where she has worked for the past 13 years. She is a classroom facilitator for the school’s 3-5th grade learners.
For four years, Hydetown Elementary has been facilitating mass customized learning, or personalized learning, which changed the whole learning environment, according to Sampson.
“The kids are so engaged in their learning and so excited in moving on their personal paths that you can see the excitement. And that gets us excited,” Sampson said.
She is one of six facilitators for the Rocket room, which is one of two major conference rooms for students at the school.
“I really like the closeness,” Sampson said. “They (students and facilitators) really feel like this is a family … it’s definitely a family. And you can tell by how we interact with one another.
“I love the fact that they (students) are still so excited about learning. The biggest gratification, I would say, would be seeing the kids grow.”
Hydetown Elementary Principal Stacy Houck said, in an email about Sampson, that “despite her personal struggles this year, she has continued to stay involved in the learning of her students. She has been a great role model for our kids and staff as her positivity and openness about her health issues has helped our school community understand and deal with what she has gone through.”
“All of the kids have a pink bracelet that says ‘you’re not in this alone,’ and all the kids wear it,” Sampson said. She added that they had started to wear the bracelets shortly after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“Someone always has your back,” she said. “I have five other facilitators that are there helping me get through planning and everything.
“Everybody has been wonderful. I’ve gotten a lot of letters and a lot of notes about prayer. And they’re constantly asking me how I’m doing,” Sampson said.
This is the second Golden Apple Award Sampson has received. Just over 20 years ago, she won the award while working in Pleasantville.
“I had moved to Hydetown. So, the Pleasantville girls who nominated me ended up coming out to Hydetown.”
Sampson said that she happened to be in the same classroom she was in when she received the award this year.
“I was excited to get the award, but I didn’t feel any more worthy than the people that I work with. We all work so hard each and every day. I wish it could have been a group award. Because I see the time and what it takes to keep things moving and the kids learning. I feel like they all should have gotten (the award).”
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