JEFFERSON COUNTY, OH (WTRF) — They say it is her love, before all else, that makes her deserving of The Gold Apple. And so the series took 7NEWS into a classroom at Buckeye Local High School.

Mary Ellen Bolock was nominated by a former student who now works in Virginia as a Special Education Teacher. Derek Starr says Mrs. Bolock changed his life. 

“Whenever I list the top 3-5 people that have inspired me and influenced me the most, they all happen to be teachers and at the top of that list is definitely Mary Ellen Bolock.” 

Derek Starr, Nominator and former student

Buckeye Local Principal, Lucas Parsons, says there is no one more deserving.

Mrs. Bolock has been a teacher here since I attended high school here and she’s been building relationships with students since then.

Lucas Parsons, Principal at Buckeye Local High School

In her 28 years teaching at Buckeye Local, this is her first time being recognized on the news. Still a little overwhelmed, she said, “Do what you love, and love what you do. That’s pretty much it.” 

She teaches history and psychology. While you would think these are starkly different, Mrs. Bolock believes these subjects are much of the same. But it is what is in-between the lines that really carries home with the students. 

“Sometimes the subject area must move aside when the personal problems are big.” 

Mary Ellen Bolock, Golden Apple Winner

“I want to be the kind of teacher that she is,” said Starr.

There is not a week that goes by where she does not hear from former students: Whether that be officiating a wedding or holding a funeral for a former student of hers.

When asked how she would spend her check, she replied, “..going to do something good. I encourage my students to do something good in the world and I need to do that also.” 

Surprising teachers with these giant checks is made possible through 7NEWS’ partnership with The Health Plan.

If you think a school staff member deserves this kind of recognition, you can still nominate someone here.