MESA, AZ (Silver Apple Award) -- There was a screen full of excited students and loud cheers celebrating Elaine Veatch, a sixth-grade teacher at Longfellow Elementary School in Mesa. She's the newest recipient of the Silver Apple Award for excellence in education.

Javier Soto barged in on a recent virtual meeting to give her the great news, and it couldn't have come at a better time. It was early in the morning, and it had already been a hectic day.

"Some students in another grade are starting their first day of AZM2 testing, so those who were not able to go to campus were able to join my space,' Veatch explained. "I have extra students in my space today; I have an extra educator in my space today. And the area I live in had a glitch with SRP, so our electricity went out for 10 minutes."

But in true educator fashion, she continues forward and gets a quick lesson in practicing what she preaches.

Elaine Veatch

"So many things have gone different today. So many things have gone different this week. So many things have gone different this year. And we've been talking about perseverance and empathy," Veatch said. "Wow, I feel like everyone has put themselves in my shoes."

And that's one of the many reasons Camille White nominated her beloved teacher for the Silver Apple Award.

"Mrs. Neely is the best teacher ever! She is always happy and makes the class a safe place. If I could, I would give her two Silver Apples," Camille read from her letter. "She is silly, funny, crazy, and full of life. She treats all of us like her own. I love my teacher so much. I love when we read, and she brings the book to life with the voices, attitudes, and everything. Sixth grade is great with her."

Veatch had nothing but praise for Camille.

"She's always thinking. She's always dreaming. And she's always moving forward," she said after Camille shared what she wrote. "So, of course, she wrote a letter and sent it off. She's amazing."

Thanks to our sponsor, Arizona Bank and Trust, Veatch also receives $1,000 that she says she'll use for books. Because after teaching for 20 years at Longfellow Elementary, the focus is still on the students.

"They bring joy and smiles to me every day, and every day I focus on our successes," she said. "And at the end of the day, I always feel that we came through it. We came through it together."


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