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Lander University Graduate Gets Golden Apple Award

Margaret Bennett with students
Golden Apple Award winner Margaret Bennett poses with Macy Storm (front center) and other students in her second-grade class at Lake Forest Elementary School in Greenville.

Margaret Young Bennett, a 1997 graduate of Lander University, has won a WYFF-TV Golden Apple Award for excellence in teaching.

The television segment that aired in January shows Bennett working with 8-year-old Macy Storm, a special education student assigned to Bennett's second-grade class at Lake Forest Elementary School in Greenville.

Bennett was nominated by Macy's parents, who appreciated her efforts to reach Macy and make her feel a part of the class.

As Bennett puts it, "the small steps for her are big steps."

She says her other students are "very accepting" of Macy. She has gifted and talented students in the same class, however, and challenging them is part of the job, too.

It is, as Bennett calls it, "a balancing act," but her bloodlines suggest she will be up to the task. All four of her grandparents either taught or were principals or superintendents. Her mother, Nancy Young, taught biology at Lander from 1970 until 1974. Both of her sisters also teach.

Bennett's husband, Arvie Bennett Jr., is a physical education teacher at East North Street Academy in Greenville.

Bennett's undergraduate degree from Lander qualified her to teach early childhood, elementary and special education students. She also has an M.Ed. degree from Walden University and is working on an Ed.D.

She was assigned to Lake Forest Elementary four years ago, after state budget cuts forced the closure of the special ed class she was teaching. For the next year, she worked with small groups of remedial students.

Lake Forest principal Cindy Coggins felt Bennett's talents were being underutilized, however, and when she needed a second-grade teacher for the 2008-2009 school year, she turned to Bennett.

For Bennett, the best part of teaching is "seeing the kids grow and challenging them." Her goal, she said, is to "make a difference in their world, no matter how big or small."

She has fond memories of what she called "the personal, family environment" at her alma mater, and credits Lander, especially professor emeritus of education Sheila Marino, with giving her the tools she needed to succeed.

To view the segment on Bennett, go to