Home » Freedom Announces Golden Apple Annual Educator Award Winners!

Freedom Announces Golden Apple Annual Educator Award Winners!


June 22, 2016

Freedom Announces Golden Apple Annual Educator Award Winners!

(Bel Air, Maryland) Freedom Federal Credit Union is pleased to announce Alisa Janiski as the winner in the Credit Union’s 2016 Golden Apple-Plus Annual Educator Award competition. Ms. Janiski, a teacher at both Church Creek Elementary and Roye-Williams Elementary, won the top $1,000 prize for her concept called “Code for Change.” The award is for a Freedom member who is a deserving teacher, school administrator or school support employee.

Ms. Janiski’s winning concept will utilize computer programming designed for her elementary school students. It uses partnerships with LEGO and K-NEX combined with programing to teach engineering, robotics and problem-solving. Through her work at two schools, Ms. Janiski has the potential to impact 1,300 students.

According to Ms. Janiski’s entry, computer coding, or programming, is a highly-engaging skill that is starting to be introduced to elementary students as early as first grade.  She has been on the forefront of this revolution as a teacher, since computer coding applies computer science skills, technology, and math, which are important skills for the work force of future generations.  Her students are learning the language of computer coding and then applying their knowledge to build and program robots to solve problems.

Since robotics and engineering materials are very expensive, and resources are limited, students have had to use “trash” consisting of deli containers, batteries, and simple motors to explore robotics. To infuse the computer science concepts into robotics, Ms. Janiski, she will purchase and partner with LEGO and KNEX education to bring engineering, robotics, and computer coding into my classroom, so her students’ “imaginations can go wild.”

As a result, she said, students will be able to work in teams to design, construct, and program to solve a problem.  She feels possibly the best aspect of computer coding is the element of failure that the students experience.  They are forced to troubleshoot, debug, and recreate multiple times until they reach success.

Runner-Up Awards

First and second place runner-up awards of $250 each were also won by Thomas Fare, a second grade teacher at Hall’s Cross Roads Elementary, and Shelly Sparks who teaches at North Harford High School.

Mr. Fare’s winning entry included several ideas, including engagement with parents in the learning process by purchasing a video camera and filming students in the classroom for parents to view on a secure web site. He also developed a concept to make writing, proofreading and editing fun by turning the process into an experience, like operating on a patient. In addition, he wants to secure an English as a Second Language (ESOL) certification to help non-English speaking students at his school.

Ms. Sparks won for her idea to purchase a special document camera to use in the classroom to incorporate the technology piece of STEM education into her Mathematics lessons. The camera, she said, will help students learn the step-by-step processes of problem solving, and will engage them to demonstrate their reasoning skills and perseverance to solve math problems. Seeing how different students can interpret and solve a problem will help the students reinforce that there is not just one way to think mathematically. By energizing and motivating the students, she said, they may decide to pursue careers involving mathematics in the future.

All applicants were asked to submit an essay demonstrating how their idea would serve their students, class, school and the Harford County community. Entries were judged by a panel of Freedom employees, board members, and a business partner; including President/CEO Mike MacPherson, Chief Risk Officer Michele Young, Board members Ronnie Davis and Lisa Ermatinger, and Mary Hastler, President of the Harford County Public Library Foundation.

Freedom Federal Credit Union is a community-chartered federal credit union offering consumer financial services to those who live, work, volunteer, worship, attend school, or have family in Harford County.  Additionally, Freedom offers a full-line of banking services for all businesses, associations, and other organizations that are based in Harford County.  Freedom has been in business since 1953 and has five locations throughout Harford County.

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