MESA, AZ (Silver Apple Award) -- This past year has been a trying one for both students and teachers alike. But Angela Shults, an eighth grade English teacher at the Mesa Academy for Advanced Studies, has looked forward to conquering the challenges, and she teachers her students to do the same. That's why she's the newest recipient of the Silver Apple Award.
Some of Shults' students logged onto our Zoom meeting early, excited to be part of a big surprise. Shults believed she was joining a discussion about National Board Certification for the school. Eventually, the principals sign her in, and we surprised her with a Silver Apple Award.
"Oh, my goodness. Thank you so much," Shults said, still trying to process what was going on. "I've been studying up for National Board, making sure I was ready, [but] I appreciate this!"
Shults inspired one of her students, Lucy Carter, not only to love writing, but to perhaps pursue a career in the field.
"Ms. Shults is one of, if not the most, kind, thoughtful, caring, and intelligent teachers I've ever had. She always checks on our stress level, giving us less homework if we already have a lot," said Lucy, reading the nomination letter she wrote about her teacher.
"She inspired my love of writing, something I wasn't very interested in before. Overall, Ms. Shults is just the best teacher. She finds some way to make every class interesting and fun, tells personal stories, and teaches life lessons along the way. I would say Ms. Shults changed my life for the better, and I'll remember her forever."
Shults reacted by saying,
"I have all the faith in the world that Lucy can be an author if she wants to be," Shults replied. "And I'm just happy to play a small role in that."
Ms. Shults says she, too, was inspired at a young age to pursue her passion. "I went to Mesa Public Schools, and I had a number of teachers who have certainly impacted me, and even led me to this career path."
Shults is now giving back in the very district that inspired her career choice. For the past 16 years, she has motivated and sparked passion in the classroom, and her students were anxious to tell us so.
"She's easily become one of my favorites to go to class to every single day. Easily the highlight of my day is to walk into her class," said Chance Moore.
"I wasn't the best writer when I came to her class. After the first couple of days, I knew she was going to help me grow," stated Pietro Dimuzio.
Joey Sandoval added, "Ms. Shults is a remarkable teacher. She's such a hard worker."
Shults' students tell us that she often shares stories about her life, things to which they can relate. Then she manages to wrap the stories into their classroom lessons. So, she often teaches literature and writing, but also some life lessons, as well.
Shults' two principals call her a "standout among standouts."
Arizona Bank and Trust said thanks Shults in a big way!
"We all know teachers have gone above and beyond, especially in this past year, and have come up with new, creative ideas to keep our students engaged, all while keeping themselves and students safe and healthy," said Patricia Gonzales, who was also on the Zoom meeting. "So, I'm thrilled to present a check donation for $1,000 from Arizona Bank and Trust to you, Ms. Shults, to spend however you like."
Shults gave all the credit to her students. "These are great kids, and I've been lucky to teach them. That's how I honestly feel. I'll keep working hard for them, of course, but I have felt lucky in all of this, for sure."