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    St. Gregory teacher receives Golden Apple Award

    St. Gregory School teacher Pauline O'Hara was presented with a Golden Apple Award by Bill Parker of Majic 100 in December 2009 for her outstanding contribution to education. Alterna Savings and Majic 100 awarded Mrs. O'Hara with a $500 bursary for her favourite school activity, group, club or initiative.

    The award was bestowed upon Mrs. O'Hara thanks to one of her Grade 2 students, Peter Voisey, who wrote a moving letter (with the help of his mother Pauline) about how his teacher had made a difference in his family's life.

    My name is Peter Voisey and I am 10 years old and would like to nominate Ms. Pauline O’Hara a teacher with St. Gregory School in Ottawa for a "Golden Apple".

    I had the pleasure of being in Ms. O’Hara’s class for Grade 2 (2006-2007).  When I first started Grade 2 my reading level was not quite up to where it should be and with the help and enthusiasm of Ms. O’Hara I soon became a “huge fan” of reading and wanted to read more and more. She introduced the “Golden Apple” system to the class and soon it became a race to see not only how hard we could push ourselves but to see how our friends were doing.  At the end of the school year I had read the most books – 146.  I cherish the certificate I received and every golden apple hung on my Christmas tree last Christmas as a reminder of not only what I did but of a fantastic teacher who helped me reach my goal.

    Her love of the Ottawa Senators encouraged us to read the newspaper every morning to see who scored and who didn’t play their best.  I still read the newspaper every morning and follow the Ottawa Senators. I saw everyday what a kind and generous teacher Ms. O’Hara is by how she spoke to us and made each and every one of us feel so special and unique. When she was going to be a grandmother for the first time she shared all the news with us.  It made us all feel very special – like she was letting us in on her life and including us as part of her family. Whenever there was a school function one of the first people I always looked around for was Ms. O’Hara.  I knew she was going to be there and she was going to be just as excited as we were.  Whether it was our annual School Dance or an assembly.

    One of the things that I think will always stay in my mind happened a few years ago.  It was the start of the Christmas season and she called me into her classroom.  With fear that only an 8 year old could feel for being called into a teacher’s classroom I slowly entered.  She had a huge smile on her face and she wanted to show me how proudly she was displaying the snowman family I had given her in Grade 2 for Christmas.  I think it takes a special person to take the time to show you how much she appreciated a small token of appreciation I had given her. 

    I cannot think of any more words or ways to tell you how special Ms. O’Hara is I just know that she has touched my life and for that I will always be grateful. I have a sister who is in Ms. O’Hara’s class this year and I hope that she too is appreciating all that she does for her students to help them be the “stars” that they can be. 

    For this I truly believe that Ms. O’Hara is deserving of her own “Golden Apple” award.

    Peter Voisey

    The 18 golden apples that were earned by our son were hung on our Christmas tree again this year and will be part of the decorations that are hung every year with a story attached to each one.  They will be hung as a reminder of his hard work and Ms. O’Hara’s  innovative way in getting her students and especially my son to read.

    She gave all the students an appreciation for art which was brought to my attention one night while out with the family my son recognized one of the paintings as being a Van Gogh and as he retold the story to us he held his chin up high and his chest was proudly stuck out – he was so proud of himself. I was impressed.  He told it to us like it was a secret that only he and Ms. O’Hara shared.  As a parent I was also kept up to date with what was going in the classroom and the school from her newsletters that were always packed with information and hints for supporting learning at home.  I also remember receiving little notes home from time to time telling me about helpful Math Websites.

    Ms. O’Hara has more than twenty year of teaching under her belt and this experience shines through year after year and only gets stronger. With or without the title our family truly believes that Ms. Pauline O’Hara is deserving of many “Golden Apples” to hang on her Christmas tree.

    Pauline Voisey

    Last Updated: 2010-06-16