An Interview with Brian O’Connell: Golden Apples

Mar 17, 2020 by

Image result for Golden Apple Foundation of New Mexico logo

Michael F. Shaughnessy –

  1. Brian, what exactly is this Golden Apple Foundation and what are you trying to achieve?

Golden Apple Foundation of New Mexico exists to catalyze teaching excellence in New Mexico through recognition, professional development and community engagement. We are trying to help every one of the 19,000+ teachers in New Mexico feel appreciated, build skills that improve their practice, and feel better connected to their communities.

  1. How long has this Foundation been in existence and who started it?

Golden Apple Foundation of New Mexico was founded in 1994 by Martin “Mike” Koldyke, who had founded a similar organization in Chicago a few years before. Mr. Koldyke and a group of Los Alamos scientists comprised the first Board of Directors in New Mexico, and the first Awards were bestowed in 1996. The central idea was to create the equivalent of the Academy Awards for teachers.

  1. When is your next meeting and what will occur?

Unfortunately our next big event has been postponed due to COVID-19 responses, but it is the Golden Apple Tribute to Teacher Excellence. This is the celebration luncheon where we give the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching to seven of the most amazing educators in New Mexico. The business and education communities from around the state join us, and it is an inspirational event. Until that is rescheduled, we look forward to our Annual Summer Conference, which this year is about Anxiety and How it Manifests in Classrooms on June 2.

  1. Brian, I know you are busy- but is there a web site where interested people can get more information or even better donate to this Foundation?

We would be thrilled if people would check out the Golden Apple Awards, the Summer Conference or opportunities to support is at

  1. What have I neglected to ask?

The only other thing I would like to share is that Golden Apple Foundation has only one staff member, so we are small but mighty! A committed Board of Directors sets the direction, and our engine is the community of past Award-receiving teachers (160 strong!) who design and lead our programming. We are truly a community organization, striving to be relevant in every town in New Mexico.

Thanks so much for letting me share a bit about our organization!

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