2018-01-12 / Front Page

‘Golden Apple’ award goes to local teacher

Laura Levering
Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office


Brad Means, WJBF News Channel 6 news anchor recognized Freedom Park School Pre-K teacher Sandra Hayes with the Golden Apple Award Dec. 15. 
Wilson A. Rivera / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office Brad Means, WJBF News Channel 6 news anchor recognized Freedom Park School Pre-K teacher Sandra Hayes with the Golden Apple Award Dec. 15. Wilson A. Rivera / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office A Freedom Park School teacher got a big surprise just before Christmas, and it was not the kind wrapped in paper.

Sandra Hayes, Pre-K teacher, received a visit from Brad Means, WJBF News Channel 6 news anchor, on Dec. 15, 2017.

Surrounded by her loved ones, the garrison commander, garrison command sergeant major, and a cameraman, Means interrupted Hayes’ class to present her with the Golden Apple Award.

Since 1993, WJBF and its partners have been recognizing outstanding teachers across the Central Savannah River Area with the Golden Apple Award. A teacher must be nominated to be considered for the award.

Making his way to where Hayes was teaching, Means positioned himself between Hayes and her students, and asked if they wanted to hear a story, to which they exclaimed “yes!”


Brad Means, WJBF News Channel 6 news anchor recognized Freedom Park School Pre-K teacher Sandra Hayes with the Golden Apple Award Dec. 15. 
Wilson A. Rivera / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office Brad Means, WJBF News Channel 6 news anchor recognized Freedom Park School Pre-K teacher Sandra Hayes with the Golden Apple Award Dec. 15. Wilson A. Rivera / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office “This is a story about a lady named Ms. Hayes and about how everyone loves her and about how she’s an incredible teacher,” Means said, with Hayes at his side and the cameraman recording.

Means went on to say that the person who nominated Hayes described her as “amazing, eager to help people learn, a champion for others, and an incredible teacher.” That person, Adrienne Gilstrap, was there to witness Hayes receiving the award.

Gilstrap’s daughter, Molly, 6, a Type 1 diabetic, was one of Hayes’ students last year.

“As a parent … it’s hard leaving your child’s life essentially in someone’s hands, and very quickly I realized that I didn’t have to worry when Molly was in Ms. Hayes’ class,” Adrienne said.

But Molly wasn’t the only reason Adrienne nominated Hayes for the award. Her other daughter, Ella, 7, was never a student in Hayes’ class, but Ella was the main reason for the nomination. Earlier this year, when Hayes asked Adrienne how her family was doing, Adrienne told her that Ella had been struggling with spelling and reading.

“The next day, Ms. Hayes showed up at our door and has tutored Ella after school every day ever since,” Adrienne said.

The time Hayes spent with Ella had a profound impact on her academics and confidence. Adrienne said that her daughter went from being a student who struggled to being a student that receives perfect grades on tests. For that reason and others, Adrienne could not think of a person more deserving of recognition.

“She truly makes an impact on any student that is lucky and blessed enough to have her,” Adrienne said. “She’s just an exceptional lady.”

Addressing the students one last time before presenting the award, Means left them with a few thoughts.

“I know that school is just beginning for you, but remember this: you are lucky, and you are blessed to have Ms. Hayes as your teacher,” Means said. “She loves you with all your heart, and she knows – just like everybody in this room knows – that you are going to turn out to be great successful people.”

It was clear that her students agreed, as they applauded and surrounded Hayes with hugs.

Hard- pressed for words, Hayes credited her mother with instilling a passion for teaching in her.

“She said, ‘What people do for you, you return your favor back to them,’ and I love working with kids.”

Footage of Hayes receiving her award aired on WJBF News Channel 6 Dec. 19, 2017.

Along with a Golden Apple trophy, Hayes received several gifts from the program’s sponsors and will be invited to attend a banquet held for all CSRA teachers who were honored during the 2017-2018 school year.

Return to top