Golden Apples for Education Partners

By: David Thomas, The Jackson Sun on May 28, 2015


For Tommy Climer, the certificate he received during the 32nd annual Golden Apple Awards presentation at the Carl Grant Events Center on Friday was worth more than the paper it was written on.

“Wal-Mart wants to be involved in the community in various ways,” Climer, the customer service manager at Wal-Mart North, said. “We’ve been involved 28 of the 32 years, and education is a good way to be involved. Wewereteamedupwith Pope Elementary.”

 Founded in 1983, the awards were presented to local schools and businesses, or Partners in Education, during the Jackson Chamber’s Quarterly Membership/ Education Recognition Breakfast.

Golden Apples are presented to a company or organization that does at least 10 projects for its partner.

“We help with homework, take part in assemblies and programs and take them treats,” Climer said. “I’ve been doing this for quite some time, and it’s rewarding when a former student comes to Wal-Mart and says, ‘Mr. Tommy, do you remember me? You came to our class and helped with our home­work.’” Climer said he’s happy the association with Pope continues. “Pope is such a wonderful school, with great kids and staff. Sharon Murphy is such a wonderful principal, and I hate to see her retire.” Deborah Frey, who completed her first year as principal at Alexander Elementary School, was impressed with the awards presentation. Frey worked in the Hardin County 

School System for 15 years, and was an instructional coach at Lincoln Magnet before taking over at Alexander. 

“Basically, the Golden Apple Awards was new to me, and I had to learn, and it was a steep learning curve,” Frey said. “I love it, and it has been amazing.” 

Frey said Bancorp-South was Alexander Elementary School’s primary partner, and didn’t hesitate when she listed the projects her school was involved in. “We have an open house, literacy night, cookouts, career carnival, Veteran’s Day, health fair, Christmas program, Black History and Women’s History,” Frey said. “And there were more. We averaged at least one project each month.” 

Frey said when Literacy Night was held, 380 visitors participated. 

“We were able to decorate our own cupcakes,” Frey said. “When we had a parent/teacher’s cookout, we had 425 in attendance. The support has been amazing.” 

Recognized as the “Mother of the PIE program,” Shirley Jones, the senior vice president of public affairs at the Jackson Chamber, said the program had seven partners when the program began in 1983. 

“I was asked to chair an advisory board, and I basically worked myself into a job,” Jones said laughing. “After we reached 100 partners, it didn’t take any time to reach 200.” 

The number is closing in on the 300 mark. 

 “We always need new partners,” Jones said. “When we first started, the program was receiving monetary support, but we did not want companies to put money in. But that went away, because businesses would see a need, and they would donate anyway.” 

Jones said financial support or material donations are great, but there is one resource better. 

“People — that’s the best part,” Jones said. “They let the students and the teachers know they care about them.” 

Photo of Jim Campbell by Aaron Hardin/The Jackson Sun

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