Golden Apple: Beth DiGiacomo

Beth DiGiacomo teaches English to a great bunch of 12th graders. Just like her senior English teacher did.

"Her name was Judy Leopard," DiGiacomo says. "That was in Lancaster, South Carolina. She made it come alive. She never sat down. She was always up at the front of the room. She was always a great inspiration to my writing, reading, analysis, critical thinking-everything that we ask these kids to do."

Now Ms. DiGiacomo follows the example set by the teacher who inspired her. She's high-energy in here.

"They respond more readily to someone who doesn't sit down and distribute worksheets. I guess you saw another ploy I use, I bribe them with treats. If they participate, we have a little system. They get Starburst because they are my stars."

Stars who are using British Lit to develop the skills needed for critical thinking and analysis.

"That's something that each and every one of us as adults use on a daily basis. Critical thinkging-how do I get into this parking place? What is the best organization of my time today? Or problem solving."

Ms. DiGiacomo treats these students like they're her own, on good days and bad.

"They know I love them. It doesn't matter they do. Even when I'm angry with them, they know I love them."

And they give that love back. Not just here in her classroom, but long after they leave.

"The children that come back to visit," she says. "That's it. That's my reward. Because, I'm the last English teacher they have. And they come back. And they say Ms. DiGiacomo, I did it. I did well in Freshman 101. I did well in 102. Or they just see me on the street, and they run up and give me a hug. That's the reward."

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