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'Great, young educator' awarded Golden Apple through Toledo Diocese

Cary Ashby • May 10, 2018 at 9:00 AM

St. Paul High School English teacher Jen Thobe has been awarded the prestigious Golden Apple award through the Toledo Diocese.

“There are only nine teachers in the diocese who get this award,” Principal Jim Tokarsky said. “It’s the 13th year they have done the Golden Apple award.”

Thobe teaches English to sophomores and seniors. She is in her fourth year at St. Paul and her seventh overall in education.

Norwalk Catholic School President Dennis Doughty described Thobe as dedicated, enthusiastic, energetic and devoted.

“She’s just one of those great, young educators,” Doughty said. “She is totally committed to what we are doing here.”

In addition to helping coordinate the St. Paul prom, Thobe has worked with Kairos (the senior retreat team) and is an adviser for the academic team.

“They have been doing a phenomenal job under her guidance,” Doughty said.

Senior Rachel Bleile nominated Thobe for the Golden Apple award.

Bleile was involved with one of Thobe’s creations, the Life Beyond These Walls program, in which students experienced mock job interviews and learned how to do resumes. St. Paul counselor Dawn Smith, who coordinated the mid-October event with Thobe, has said they wanted to equip students with skills for success after high school. Students also heard from a panel of business leaders and another one about safety from Norwalk Police Detective Sgt. Jim Fulton.

Many students have been asking Thobe if Life Beyond These Walls will happen again. 

“All of the students were enthusiastic about the program and found the experience valuable,” she said.

In the last 13 years, two previous NCS and St. Paul teachers have been honored with the Golden Apple: Cindy McLaughlin (preschool) and Mike Wasiniak (biology).

There’s a certain sense of validation for Thobe in receiving the award.

“All the teachers put in a bazillion percent because nobody does just one thing,” she said.

Currently she is pursuing her master’s degree in writing.

“I think I’m really good at writing,” said Thobe, who has been using some her newfound knowledge and skills with her students. “That’s an everything skill. … If you don’t know how to write, you’re not going to go anywhere.”

This semester Thobe’s lessons on writing at St. Paul have focused on the audience — “who you’re writing for and why you’re writing it.”

The English teacher was asked what she wants students to take away from her and the classes she has taught them.

“I hope that they know I cared. I want them to know at some point in their life that somebody cared,” Thobe said.

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