Golden Apple Award: Nikki Varnell, CSLA

CHATTANOOGA, TN (WDEF) – Being the new kid in school can be intimidating. Nikki Varnell is great at helping new students fit right in at Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts. That’s just one of the qualities that earned Ms. Varnell the Golden Apple Award.

Laurie Clifton is the School Counselor at CSLA.

She says, “She (Varnell)  just supports every kid, cares about every kid. She’s fun and engaging. They, the kids want to be here in her class.”

Roberta Echols is an Exceptional ED teacher at CSLA.

She adds, “They’ve done things in this classroom that are just very fun, and that I learned by coming into this classroom.”

Librarian Jennifer Fields chips in, “She not only cares about their academics, she cares about the whole child. She cares about their social and emotional wellness, and she really worries at home about making sure she’s reached each kid.”

When asked to describe herself, Ms. Varnell says, “Nikki Varnell is a teacher of 19 years. I love what I do. My students are the reason I get up every morning. We had a lot of educators in my family, and so my grandmother was the best teacher that I know, and she dedicated her life to it, even after she retired, she went back and was a substitute teacher until she was 92 years old. She instilled in us and that’s what makes the world a better place is helping people learn and be, learn how to be good people. I’ve been blessed to have a long enough career where some of my students have become adults, and I love watching that journey from the kid that I know to, to someone that inspires me, and I admire and is making the world a better place.”

Oliver Darbouzie is a 5th Grader at CSLA.

He says, “Ms. Varnell is a very great teacher, and she cares about everyone in her classroom, and like she really just makes sure what she’s doing is right.”

Fellow 5th grader Lillian Anderson agrees, “She includes everyone, even those who may be falling behind, or those who are exceeding expectations in every way possible.”

Fifth grader Jacob Rust says, “It’s not a lot of, ‘You did something bad. You get a punishment.’ It’s more of a, ‘You did the greatest thing ever, here, you have a reward.’  You know, so I really like that about Ms. Varnell.”

Ms. Varnell concludes, “It it’s very humbling to hear that someone thinks that of me. Great students make great teachers, and I have great students, and it means a lot to hear that I mean that to someone.”



Categories: Chattanooga, Education, Golden Apple Award, Hamilton County, Local News