GREENWOOD, Ind. (WISH) — WISH-TV is proud to honor some of central Indiana’s most outstanding teachers with our Golden Apple Award.
The prize comes with a check for $500, a trophy, and a big surprise. April’s winner is Amber Ploutz, a 2nd-grade teacher at V.O. Isom Central Elementary School in Greenwood. Along with teaching, Ploutz runs the school’s Drama Club in her free time.
“She does drama. She directs it, she makes the set, makes the scripts. She makes parodies of songs,” said 11-year-old Nolan Rockey.
Rockey is in 5th grade now, but had Ploutz as a teacher three years ago and does Drama Club with her every semester.
“She’s like this super awesome person to hang out with. And Drama Club has made elementary school even better,” said 10-year-old Madison Dudenhoeffer. She is a 5th-grade student in the Drama Club.
Ploutz runs the show when it comes to the school’s Drama Club. She has transformed the program into a huge success over the past ten years.
Haley Priese is a behavior specialist at the school, but helps Ploutz with the sound system during the school plays and sees her genius firsthand.
“She is so creative. She thinks of things in a way you wouldn’t think of and, I mean, she writes these performances and it is just amazing. I always say she missed her calling – she is a phenomenal teacher but she should be on Broadway doing these productions,” said Priese.
Instead, Ploutz brings Broadway to V.O. Isom Central Elementary School. Every semester around 70 students put on a play created by Ploutz. In the process, the kids rave about her parody abilities and directing skills.
“She’s like – over here and over there and she loves talking with us. She is sort of like, our friend,” said Madison.
It’s that friendship that resonates with her students and helps her motivate students in her 2nd-grade classroom. Ploutz often inspires her students to learn using rhythm and music.
“I just love that she always lets us do fun things. She always has crafts and stuff for us to do – it’s just more fun,” said Presley Kindell who is a 2nd-grade student in Ploutz’s class.
“Very bubbly. Very outgoing. Very involved,” said Principal Julie Young when describing Ploutz.
Young said unfortunately there is no funding for the drama program. It is not something elementary schools typically have a budget for. Therefore, Ploutz runs the club unpaid, for fun, in her free time.
“Just to take the time to not only teach a classroom of children on a daily basis but then to write plays. Something that she is not paid extra for. Give the time she gives. They practice at least twice a week, sometimes more. She does a drama even in the Fall and Spring. So, just completely voluntary because she loves this school, loves these kids and these families,” said Young.
The kids love her too.
“Really anyone that has been around her has always loved her,” said Nolan. “There is not a kid that is sad in her class.”
This is why Ploutz was picked as April’s Golden Apple Award winner. News 8’s Hanna Mordoh went to surprise her. Ploutz was shocked when she saw TV cameras in her classroom during the surprise. Students laughed and chatted in happiness as Ploutz received the trophy and a $500 check from the Golden Apple Award sponsor partner Bailey and Wood Mortgage Lender.
“Congratulations, here is a trophy for all that you do. We want to say thank you. You are clearly loved by all of your students. So here is a $500 check to say thank you for everything,” said Bailey Wood with Bailey and Wood Mortgage Lender.
“Thank you so much, wow! What a wonderful Wednesday,” said Ploutz. “Teaching is my passion it is something I have always wanted to do. Every day is different and every year is unique and this is an absolute dream come true. There are no words to say what this means to me.”
Ploutz wiped tears from her face as she watched the video message from her students and fellow staff members.
“I don’t do the things I do because I expect anything in return. I do them because I love these kids and I love this school. And I love what I do. So this is, wow,” said Ploutz. “I love this school and how every day is different and I can be creative. It is just, that this is my passion.”
When asked if anyone can learn from her story and journey, Ploutz said “If there is something you really enjoy doing – go out there and do it! There are always opportunities out there, you just have to reach out and grab them. It takes effort, it takes a lot of work but I think it is worth it in the end.”
Ploutz definitely deserves a standing ovation. Along with teaching and running Drama Club, Ploutz helps the school leaders apply for grants that she thinks will “enhance the learning experience” for students, in all sorts of subjects. She is a true advocate for education.
To watch other Golden Apple Award recipients, click this link.
To nominate a deserving teacher for next month’s Golden Apple Award, submit a detailed nomination here.