Golden Apples Awarded To Three Maumee Educators

Maumee City Schools staff (from left) Michele Loboschefski, Amy Johnson and Jamie Naragon will each receive a Golden Apple Award during the Hometown Hero Awards on Thursday, March 2 for their excellence in education and their impact on the lives of students. MIRROR PHOTO BY KRISTI FISH

BY KRISTI FISH | MIRROR REPORTER — Three Maumee City Schools staff members will each receive a Golden Apple Award at the Hometown Hero Awards on Thursday, March 2.

Fairfield Elementary principal Michele Loboschefski, Maumee High School teacher Jamie Naragon and Fairfield school counselor Amy Johnson will each be presented with the award.

Golden Apple Awards are presented to individuals who have shown excellence in education and made a difference.

Michele Loboschefski

As a principal, Michele Loboschefski balances all the different aspects of her job, which includes her work in her office, in the classroom and even outside the building. She was nominated by Fairfield parents for that work.

“It meant so much to me because it came from parents. It made me so happy because they don’t get to see the ins and outs every day of what I do in the building,” Loboschefski said. “They see the outside, so to have that relationship where they trust what I do inside is great.”

One of the parents who nominated her, Courtney Zbydnowski, was so impressed with the work she sees from Loboschefski and knew she had to nominate her.

“She knows everyone’s name and is always out front greeting people,” Zbydnowski said. “She’s patient with children, shows kindness to all when they’re arriving in the morning and always has a smile on her face.”

She keeps that smile on her face and greets students outside every day, rain or shine, Zbydnowski said. 

Loboschefski’s dedication to the students and school is what makes her worthy of a Golden Apple Award, according to Zbydnowski, who noted that the elementary principal doesn’t stop at greeting the students and their families at the school, she also engages with them at school-related events and makes herself available to the parents whenever it’s needed.

“She’s always letting us know of updates. She’s always on top of it,” Zbydnowski said. “I like that she’s very responsive to any issues that we have, and she’s just very involved with the Maumee community and events at Fairfield.”

With three children, Zbydnowski has known Loboschefski for many years and said she stands out as someone worthy of recognition and thanks, something that Loboschefski does not take lightly.

“I have gone to this event for many years … so I know all the things other teachers have done, so it’s neat to share this honor with them,” Loboschefski said. “I know there are fantastic teachers out there that deserve many accolades like this.”

Having been to the Hometown Hero Awards several times, Loboschefski is familiar with what makes a Golden Apple Award-worthy teacher: someone who is understanding and embraces every student, but also someone who remains a student themselves.

“In this job, you cannot go through school and say, ‘I know what’s best and this is how I should teach it.’ It’s forever changing. To be the best teacher or administrator you can be, you are always learning,” Loboschefski said.

That mentality is also what she sees in her fellow award winners.

Amy Johnson

With nearly three decades of work in education and 17 years at MCS, Amy Johnson has touched the lives of hundreds of students, along with staff and parents, too.

The most important thing she does for her job as a school counselor is listen to each of those people, she said. It’s the only way she can learn about the problems they have and then help them form a solution.

“From the first day I met her, she was like, ‘How can I help?’ not only to the students, but the teachers,” said Fairfield Elementary teacher Katie Malone on why she nominated Johnson. “She is always all hands on deck.”

According to Malone, Johnson’s calm demeanor and willingness to listen before helping solve the issue is what helps students and teachers trust her with their problems.

The daily interactions with students, from those she’s trying to help problem-solve to the students she passes in the hallway, are also Johnson’s favorite part of the job.

“They make me smile every day,” Johnson said. “No matter how frustrating the day is, you can always see a bright side to things with them.”

The staff Johnson works with, though, have helped her become a counselor worthy of a Golden Apple Award, she acknowledged.

“The staff members are amazing, I couldn’t do it without their flexibility and their dedication to these kids,” Johnson said. “I couldn’t do what I do if I didn’t have the support from the entire staff.”

It goes both ways, Malone said. Working alongside Johnson allows the teachers a chance to learn how to handle certain situations. Both Loboschefski and Johnson have been instrumental in helping the teachers implement the current social-emotional learning curriculum. According to Malone, listening to lessons in the classroom and seeing how Johnson interacts with the students and parents helps the other teachers become better at their own jobs, too.

With her experience in the field, Johnson is also able to offer plenty of resources to staff, students and families, along with sharing the knowledge she’s obtained over the years.

“She also has a great relationship with the staff. She is there for everyone,” Malone said. “She takes action and gets the ball rolling on whatever she needs. She has some hard things to deal with in her position sometimes, and she does it well.”

Jamie Naragon

Two Maumee High School students were excited to nominate Jamie Naragon, who they said is a welcoming and understanding teacher.

Naragon has been able to form relationships and connect with her students because she has dedicated her time to both the drama department and several clubs over her 10 years at Maumee. By leading these groups, she can see the same students year after year and become a familiar and friendly face to the students.

She also teaches the College Credit Plus social studies courses, meaning she has many of the same students throughout all four years. All of this allows her to become a safe person for the students to be themselves around.

“I moved to Maumee when I was in high school, and the clubs were how I met people and made friends, so I want to make sure I have opportunities for kids to be able to do the same. I want to help them find their school family,” Naragon said.

In high school, the students might not be able to form friendships with the students in their classrooms as easily because they don’t see the same students in every class and certainly not every year, Naragon explained. Clubs allow students with similar interests to find each other.

That’s how Naragon found her friends in high school – in drama and band. She knew if she pursued education, she could help students like herself.

“I kind of wanted the chance to do that again and I’ve always loved history, so it seemed like education in general was good,” Naragon said.

After graduating college, she wasn’t ready yet to teach alongside her mentors at Maumee, so she worked elsewhere for 10 years before one of her former history teachers at Maumee reached out and encouraged her to apply when an opening became available.

The cycle of learning from and following in the footsteps of former teachers continues with Naragon, too.

“She is the reason I want to be a teacher,” said Peyton Horak, one of the students who nominated Naragon.

Olivia Flagg, another student who nominated Naragon, said her teacher makes her feel understood and brings a feeling of warmth to the school.

“I hope I always stay in contact with her when my high school days are over,” Flagg said.

From her students, Naragon said she has learned patience, how to think on her feet and how to find a balance that meets everyone’s educational needs and desires.

“I might be an integral part of their lives for right now, but I want them to know they will always be an integral part of mine,” Naragon said of her students.

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