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Hancock County teacher wins Golden Apple

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LA HARPE, Ill. (WGEM) -- La Harpe Elementary School teacher Melissa Johnson was awarded the WGEM Golden Apple Award for September.

She is in her fifteenth year teaching at La Harpe.

Johnson has 18 students in her first grade class this school year.

"She's probably one of the goodest teachers I've had," student Cody Cox said.

"She teaches me new math questions," first grader Penelope Thompson said.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, six of Johnson's students learn remotely.

"I meet with the students live every morning at 8 o'clock and we talk about what the day is going to look like. I spend a lot of time recording videos for the, lesson videos so they can follow along," Johnson explained.

Johnson said she is working hard to make sure all students get the best education possible.

"Both for students in the classroom as we have those new challenges there with social distancing, and kids who are learning at home. How I can do a better job of helping them?" Johnson said.

"She absolutely is working two jobs," La Harpe Elementary Princiapal Sara Ryner said.

Madelyn is one of Johnson's remote learners. Her mom nominated Johnson for the WGEM Golden Apple Award, and said she thinks outside the box to keep her daughter engaged.

Principal Sara Ryner agreed she's also seen Johnson's creativity.

"Mrs. Johnson doesn't just throw worksheets out there. She's got games, she's got dice, she's got manipulatives. She's got all kids of things that keep that at home learning engaging, which is so difficult," Ryner said.

In a school year full of unique challenges, Johnson says she's learning something new everyday.

"I'm taking it one day at a time, and looking at what I can change and adjust to make things better," Johnson said.

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Natalie Will

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