ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Congratulations to this week’s Golden Apple winner — Jennifer Perez!

Ms. Perez is a Special Education Teacher at Northeast College Preparatory High School in the Rochester City School District.

“I think what stands out the most about Ms. Perez is that she goes above and beyond, she really cares not just about students, but the community,” said Principal Nakia Burrows.

“She likes to involve families, she likes to make home visits, she likes to make success a priority and I think it’s awesome that excellence, for her, is a way of life, it’s what is expected and what should happen for students and families.”

Perez has been teaching special education for 14 years. Seven of those have been spent at Northeast College Preparatory High School.

“I just always liked working with this population and I feel like I can always help them with different ways of learning and I just feel like I belong with them,” Perez said. “My students…they’re wonderful. They keep us going on every day.”

Perez’s colleague, Jessica Ellsworth, also teaches special education. She said Perez goes the extra mile for students inside and outside of the classroom.

“During COVID, she went to our students homes and did over 300 home visits to make sure students had Chromebooks, to deliver work, to deliver snacks and see what our families needed,” Ellsworth said. “She doesn’t believe in just teaching the kids in her classroom. She believes in our entire school and reaching out to our entire school community.”

Burrows said Perez also has a positive spirit that shines brightly throughout the entire school.

“In our current times, and the things that are happening just in the community and the world, to just come to a teacher that’s always smiling and always positive… I think it just brings that positive spirit to students where they feel like despite what their challenges are, they can be successful or someone cares,” Burrows said.

For Perez’s dedication to her students and colleagues, Ellsworth decided to nominate her for a Golden Apple Award through News 8.

“I think she is definitely going to be surprised,” Ellsworth said. “She’s not the type of person that likes to be in the spotlight, she is not the type of person that likes to be recognized for things. She likes to do her job and fly under the radar.”

Perez was speechless after being surprised with the award. She said she has seen the segment on TV, but never expected she would get recognized.

Congratulations to Ms. Perez! We appreciate all you do for our community.

If you know a teacher you’d like to nominate for a Golden Apple, you can find nomination forms here.