2019-2020 Teacher Of The Year

Gwen Rockette - Clarkdale Elementary

The Meridian Star Article

As a second grader at Clarkdale Elementary, Claire Johnson remembers Gwen Rockette for helping her overcome her shyness and seeing her hidden potential.

"Honestly, she was one of the best teachers I had in elementary school," said Johnson, who plans to attend Meridian Community College this fall.

"She made me feel comfortable and I felt like I could tell her anything, even if I was just in second grade," Johnson said. "Mrs. Rockette has always been there for me."

Rockette's desire to help her students realize their potential is just one reason she was named the Golden Apple Teacher of the Year for 2019-2020.

"I'm excited about where this takes me next and how I can impact other children," said Rockette, who teaches at Clarkdale Elementary. "I'm very humbled and surprised."

Educators who receive the Golden Apple award usually meet for a banquet, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was canceled.

Rockette, who was named the Golden Apple Teacher for November 2019, is a National Board Certified Teacher and serves as a mentor for other teachers working toward acquiring their national boards.

She has conducted professional learning communities and NCBT summer sessions for the World Class Teaching Program, which was sponsored by the Kellogg Foundation.

Rockette, who's been an educator for 15 years, said that even though she came from a long line of educators, she didn’t decide to become a teacher until attending college.

"I actually considered journalism, because I really love to read and write," Rockette said last year. "But, then I changed my mind because I wanted to be able to impact the younger generation and show them how rewarding it can be to have a life enriched by literature."

Rockette said her favorite thing about teaching is when her students experience that "a-ha" moment.

"It is so gratifying to see the light bulb come on for them and to see them from the beginning of the school year, and the end of the school year – how much they grow in their capacity of knowledge and what they are able to do," she said.

Clarkdale Elementary School Principal Angela McHenry said Rockette is an outstanding representative and shows what it means to be a great teacher in every way.

"Her concern for students, willingness to work for them and her passion for continuing to learn are all qualities she displays each day," McHenry said.