Golden Apple Award: West Lincoln teacher connects with community

Published: Oct. 30, 2019 at 5:25 PM CDT
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Nuru Roach played teacher as a kid. Now, she gets to fulfill her dream everyday as a first grade teacher in Lincoln. Teaching in today's world is different than make believe, but Ms. Roach is up for the challenge.

To say Nuru Roach was surprised she won a 10/11 Golden Apple Award is an understatement. For 13 years, she's been teaching first grade at West Lincoln Elementary School. She's just doing what she loves.

"Even after they told me I got it I just, I didn't feel like I deserved it because, this is just something I love to do," Roach said. "I don't do it for recognition or for an award. I just do it I guess."

And that passion for teaching is what West Lincoln Principal Scott Schwartz noticed when he hired Ms. Roach 13 years ago.

"To be a teacher today you have to learn to adapt. Since kids have different routines at night, you have to teach differently to engage kids, Schwartz said. "At West Lincoln, we feel you have to be strong in your discipline; we dive into the curriculum deeper than most places because we feel that teachers need to have a strong base in what they are teaching kids. Nuru has bought into that, 'cause she knows she has to know things really well so she can make those quick decisions while she's teaching. She needs to find out where the kids are so she can fill the gaps."

"We have kids that come from all over the world. We have kids that have needs, and kids that need to be challenged. So we need someone who has a large skill set and a big heart who loves kids," Schwartz added.

The person who nominated Ms. Roach at West Lincoln Elementary said that what makes her a good teacher is that her teaching skills go beyond academics.

Brittney Bolkovac said that Roach teaches kids respect, manners, how to be humble, and how to carry yourself when you are not in the school building. But she also teaches them just how to be a good people."

Bolkovac and Ms. Roach have been friends since their years as students at Lincoln High. Thanks to their friendship, Bolkovac is now a teacher at Dawes Middle School.

"Nuru is someone who actually inspired me to go into education," Bolkovac said. "Seeing the connection that she has with her kids if we are out and about and she runs into parents, people genuinely remember her. It's the relationships she has with people."

Everyone is always saying, 'Thank you so much for working with my child. You helped my student."

And for someone who always wanted to be a teacher, it's a dream come true to be working with first grades at West Lincoln.

Scott Schwartz hopes Ms. Roach will stay a long time. He said the community needs a teacher like Nuru.

And Nuru Roach doesn't see herself leaving the classroom.

"I actually graduated with my masters last year, with administration," Roach said. "But I don't see myself leaving the class, and so even though I went for something, this is enough!"

The 10/11 Golden Apple Award is given each month of the school year to an educator having a outstanding impact in our local schools. To nominate an educator for the 10/11 Golden Apple Award, click here.