GREECE, N.Y. (WROC) — Congratulations to this week’s Golden Apple winner, Amanda Shipman! 

Mrs. Shipman is a special education teacher at Longridge Elementary School in Greece, where she has worked for six years. 

“I never thought I would be a special ed teacher. I thought I would be like a kindergarten teacher, a gen. ed teacher, and then I was laid off, got it on accident, and I will never go back. I love it,” Shipman said.

At Longridge, Shipman leads the school’s 611 programs, a self-contained program for students with autism. 

“It’s a smaller class size, no more than six students, and then many of those students have adults that work with them as one-to-ones,” said Principal Jason Juszczak. “So if you were to walk into Amanda’s room, you would see Amanda, usually three or four other adults, plus six students working and it’s all individualized.”

Juszczak says the students Shipman teaches have very unique needs and it takes a very special person to meet the students where they are the way she does. He adds that Shipman gets to help students meet milestones in life.

“These are things like teeth brushing, bathing and potty training, and things like that,” Juszczak said. “So not only is Amanda helping students learn the academic pieces that we want students to learn, but she’s teaching them very valuable life skills that they’re learning now, but they’re going to take with them, not only in school but then in adulthood as well.” 

Rachel Smith works as a CCA in Shipman’s class and says she’s very outgoing and cares tremendously about her students. 

“The way she interacts with the kids and the staff is something that I really haven’t seen a lot. The kids truly mean everything to her, and it’s not even just the way she goes about it, it’s the way she educates you at the same time,” Smith said. 

But it’s not just the students Shipman has had a big impact on. Smith says she’s also changed the lives of the staff members in her classroom. 

“I come to work every day excited to work with her because every day I’m learning something new,” Smith said. “I’d never imagined I’d learned this much since November and it’s truly opened my eyes to the wonders of the Autism Program and everything these children can do and will do.”

For Shipman, her favorite part about teaching is seeing her students grow.  

“I love the small growth … you saw the kids, like the small things mean so much for our kids, especially the population that I teach,” Shipman said. “Our goal is if we can teach them to communicate something little that they need or want in life, that’s huge.”

For the impact Shipman has had on her students and colleagues, Smith wanted her to be recognized with a Golden Apple Award through News 8.

“She truly has a lot of empathy and love. She’s just an amazing person, truly, inside and out,” Smith said. 

“I have a tremendous sense of pride knowing that we have an amazing staff,” Juszczak said. “They make so many sacrifices every day to support the students that we have here at Longridge and Amanda is just a perfect example of what that looks like each and every day.”

Congratulations to Mrs. Shipman! Thank you for all your work in our community.

If you have a teacher you want to nominate for a Golden Apple award, you can find nomination forms here