HANNIBAL, OH (WTRF) — As teachers pack in the last-minute prep, we needed to catch one more teacher by surprise before the fall semester started. So with the principal’s call for a hurried meeting regarding one of the incoming-students, our next Golden Apple Awards winner was sent through a whirlwind of emotion!

We called River Elementary Principal Eric James and told him one of his teachers would be honored. He then helped with the surprise.

“I told her that she had a meeting with an incoming student who is newly enrolled. And it was my first time meeting the parent.” 

Eric James, Principal of River Elementary

However, when Ms. Jennifer Haught opened the door to meet these parents, she was instead met with a check and a 7NEWS camera!

She was shocked.

“As a friend and as a person who shares a profession, I hear her heart,” said nominator Ted Edinger.

Meeting in kindergarten over 40 years ago, at the same River Elementary classroom, you could call Ms. Jennifer Haught and Mr. Ted Edinger life-long friends. Now teaching art in Tennessee, Ted still keeps up with Ohio Valley news. So, he wrote to the Golden Apple Awards saying, “In all my years in education…Ms. Haught is truly the most impressive educator I’ve ever come across.” 

Ms. Haught and Mr. Edinger talk every week. And during the pandemic, he could not believe his friend’s tenacity.  

“She found ways to reach her students that went so above and beyond. She traveled all around. Her students are very spread out.” 

Ted Edinger, Nominator, Art Teacher

“To me, it actually felt like a death; that I couldn’t be with my kiddos, and I couldn’t have that connection with them every day.”

“In May my dad actually went with me. And we took a few days, and we just broke it down into 6 or 7 kiddos. We went to each of their homes and did a little graduation ceremony. It probably meant more to me than it did to the kiddos.”

Jennifer Haught, August’s Golden Apple Awards Winner

And just two weeks ago she attended a wedding of one of her former students. That’s right; a student from the very first kindergarten class she taught. That was 24 years ago. 

She called Mr. Edinger a day before the surprise to tell him she was worried about the parent-teacher meeting. But right after, she had a text to send him!

She did not suspect a thing. But Ted says that’s Jennifer in a nutshell. She does not expect praise or recognition. She just loves what she does.

When we asked Ted what he thinks his friend will do with the money, he said, “She’s going to pour it right back into those students.” 

To nominate someone for the Golden Apple Awards, head here.