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Who is Apple Awards, what do we do and how can we help you honor and recognize achievement and loyalty to your organization and the people closest to you?

Summer Recognition

b2ap3_thumbnail_Facebook-20150712-090850.jpgOrganized sports may be experiencing a temporary lull. Business may be booming and too busy (tourist season) or flat and coasting (not tourist season). Even if this is the case, summer has its moments that need to be recognized and applauded, with or without an award. See if you qualify. 

10 points for each of the following: (200 total points) 

 

  • You took your family on vacation.
  • You went for a day or more without digital connection of any kind.
  • You endured 90 degrees temps without AC for two or more hours without saying “I'm so hot.”
  • You have eaten half a watermelon in one sitting.
  • You have tried a new summer sport or activity.
  • You watched fireworks on the 4th (July, of course).
  • You have gotten a shorter haircut.
  • You have worn shorts or a bathing suit more than ten times.
  • You have been in a boat.
  • You have watched an early sunrise.
  • You have watched a late sunset.
  • You have had a long, relaxed conversation with a family member.
  • You have read a book.
  • You have washed your athletic shoes (they should need it!)
  • You aren't counting the days until school starts.
  • Your weight has stayed steady, or decreased.
  • You have beach sand in your car.
  • You have eaten an ice cream cone (doesn't count if in a dish)
  • You have taken a picture of the most gorgeous flowers you've ever seen.
  • You have been outside and completely wet (rain, pool, lake, doesn't matter) 

 

So how did you do?

Less than 50      Hey, it's summer already! Get going.

50 – 100             Better. You're trying, but don't brag.

110-150             You're having a pretty good summer, and still have a month and a half left

Above 150          You rock! There should be an award with your name on it, seriously!

 

 

 

 

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Who do YOU know?

I have a dear friend who is a high school guidance counselor. She has had this job over the years through many changes of administration and policy. Each year she has a large number of students to meet and encourage. My first thought is that she is there to help them plan for the future – know their strengths, choose a career goal, choose their next educational endeavor. For some, this is what she does. For others she hopes first to keep them in high school long enough to graduate. Over the brief time she has them she must develop a relationship and ask for their trust. She holds her breath as she watches them navigate their own personal mine fields – homelessness, abuse and neglect, drugs, alcohol, loneliness, ridicule, promiscuity, anxiety. Often policy changes leave her with more than she can possibly do and fewer tools with which to do anything. Their situations are on her mind far past the dismissal of the last class.

b2ap3_thumbnail_20150522_141415-1-1.jpgI know a woman who was an elementary school teacher in a small private school. Her example was that of great caring for her students, their families and their greatest good. She dealt with the problems of modern families, showing them compassion, integrity and principles of truthfulness with love. When an administrator was needed for the school, she accepted the position and added that to her teaching role. She left only to become caretaker for her elderly mother. When that was no longer necessary she could have retired, but returned to teaching.

I know a man who teaches music in a high school for gifted students. He holds a second job in music ministry for his church but that doesn't keep him from spending time with his students and knowing them personally. He is fun, energetic, smart and kind and for all of that his students love him. He pushes them to excellence in their band competitions, he spends hours on their special projects and teaches them to view music with high regard. He also takes their problems home at the end of the day. His church family often hears requests to pray for his students.

 It is the end of the school year. May is teacher appreciation month. Who do you know who needs to be affirmed, encouraged or thanked for being who they are and doing what they do in the field of education? What will you do about it?

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Honor a Teacher this Month

Teachers come in all sizes, all ages, from all countries.  They teach so many different things it would be hard to name them all.  In our hemisphere there are many countries having a public school year that ends in the spring, specifically May or June, and here we are in that very time.  Graduation ceremonies are being held and both students and teachers are being honored for their work, and along that line, I have an education story to share with you. It is special to me and you will see why.

For several years I have been getting acquainted with an organization called Asia's Hope.  They establish homes for orphans and children at risk in India, Thailand and Cambodia.  With help from a variety of private sponsors they have built several campuses consisting of from five to ten orphan homes and a school.  Each home houses a family unit of 20 -24 children, a house parent couple and one or two additional caretakers.  The children have this family for life and part of what is provided for each child is a good education.  

On the Asia's Hope campus where I have visited, early grades are taught on premises but older students go to public high school and then to university or trade school, much like the pattern in the United States.  This May many are finishing their school year and getting their class ranking. One home in particular has sent me a "glowing" report of the progress several of their students have made. Three of their students placed 2nd in their classes of over 40, and two placed 3rd in their classes.

Since all of these children are serious students and aspire to be the hope of their country for the future, one of the things they are learning is the English language.  When I first met them in 2011 most spoke no English at all and it was difficult to communicate with them in any depth.  Hugs and smiles were about as far as we could go.  This has gradually changed over the years. Numerous ones are fluent and most understand well even if they cannot speak.  The final announcement from this home was of special note.

"One of our young students has been working to teach English to others at a local school."

A new teacher has been born! This young lady wants to study nursing at the university some day but for now she is sharing her knowledge of English with younger students, which is quite an accomplishment.  Imagine yourself learning a second language well enough to teach it to others.  I am so proud of her!

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What They Were Really Doing: Part 1

As promised, here's another peek behind the scenes as to what really happens at Apple Awards when the boss is gone (which, to his relief, is pretty much the same as what happens when he's there.) 

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Several clipboards were up on the order board the day I dropped in.  Stacey, Kate and Bill were all occupied at their stations. I thought Kate's project was interesting and different from the "apple" theme I'd seen so often.  

She had a number of metal plates with scrolled edges lined up on her desk and was watching another one go through the laser engraver.  The plates were one element of retirement plaques being made for a major organization in the eastern U.S.  Each one was taking about 10 minutes to engrave and she had over 40 of them to do.  That's a lot of minutes.  

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These plaques also had an emblem with a logo, that was to be applied to the circle on the metal plate.  And to finish, the metal plate was to be mounted on a dark walnut wooden base. The many details of this product took a lot of attention and focus (Kate's specialties).

All the information about this plaque, including its custom logo was digitally stored and will be available for future orders as well.  That is one of the conveniences that Apple Awards offers its customers, aiming to please, as usual. 

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Where's My Name?

If you haven't yet heard, Coca Cola recently launched a new campaign with an ad showing ordinary people being given a bottle of Coke with their name on it - a very simple gesture that really spoke more about the concept of recognition than about the product itself.  

The resulting backlash is not "why can't I get a bottle of Pepsi with my name on it?"  It's "why can't I find MY name on a bottle?"  And I'm sure most people can identify with the question if they've ever tried to find their name on a key chain or coffee cup or whatever...  Our names are special identifiers to us.  We love to see our names and we love to be recognized in print.  

Apple Awards is in the business of recognizing people in a personal way.  Your name and/or the name of the person you wish to recognize is the focal point of everyday work at Apple.  A great variety of useful and beautiful objects are on site just waiting for personalization with sand etching, laser engraving or stamping.  

Let's face it, Coke is not going to market bottles with Rumplestiltskin, or Methuselah, or Acidette on them but if you wanted, you could get those names on a crystal apple and present it to a surprised and happy recipient.  You could do it here at Apple Awards, and it would be fun. 

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Hey, Good Job!

Recognition and productivity – do you see the connection? Timely and appropriate recognition motivates people to be productive. Productivity adds value to both educational and business environments and motivates recognition. They are pretty common sense partners. But what can you do to stimulate productivity during those occasional “dry spells”? What form should recognition take to be effective in a particular setting? Here are a few ideas.

 

 When productivity is needed:

 

  • Productivity can be stimulated by “think time”. Sometimes it's as simple as taking a 15 minute break from your desk, or making use of that vacation time benefit (it's there for a reason, duh...) Some forward thinking companies even incorporate unstructured time into their employees schedules and find that it is well worth it. Read about that here
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  • When you are in an unproductive phase, lower the bar slightly and produce something even if it's not your best or brightest. It might be something that can be refined or improved later and it might spark an idea that will give you new energy.
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  • Identify one task that most intimidates or stalls your productivity and work on it for an hour. It's usually the task that you've been putting off, feeling guilty about not doing, feeling annoyed with, or unprepared to handle. One hour of attention can accomplish more than you might imagine and suddenly the task becomes manageable. You have freedom to move on. 
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When recognition is due:

 

  • Recognition can be as simple as a sincere word of thanks, or making sure that the correct person is acknowledged verbally for their idea or action

     

  • Public recognition serves as a motivator for others to be productive as long as it can be seen as attainable, with clear benchmarks

     

  • Timely recognition earns more loyalty. It is so much better to surprise someone who is doing an exemplary job than to try to win back an worker who has been overlooked or ignored. Be proactive in looking for those who deserve recognition.

     

  • Give highly productive people the opportunity to share their ideas, lead projects, and motivate others as a part of recognition.

 

 

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Education Happens Everywhere!

Where does education start?  Not in the classroom, that's for sure.  Learning starts when the mind is formed and that might be even before birth!  The family unit is the first school we come in contact with and it is full of teachers - parents, siblings, relatives and friends.  By the time a child comes into his first classroom his teacher hopes he has learned some very important lessons on how to interact with the world. Good parenting isn't usually recognized on an institutional level, but it should be recognized!  Do you know someone who is sending their child off to kindergarten this fall?  Send them an Apple Award for all the time and effort spent preparing their first time student. ( Who knows, it might even lessen some of the angst that comes with this landmark event.)

And what about those years after formal schooling? I wouldn't be surprised if more learning takes place then than at any other time.  The workplace is where that education meets the real world, and mentors are needed for the transition.  A smart business pays attention to the path new employees take as they start work.  Awards and other means of recognition (like, say, a nice raise in pay?) are ways of motivating workers to be creative, productive and stay on the job. 

Who was instrumental in helping you as you started work? Did you have a mentor, someone who built your confidence and encouraged you?  And if you've been working long enough to be an expert, who are you mentoring and to whom are you passing along the valuable things you've learned?  Your stories and comments are welcomed as we look at all the places education happens.

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Ring Them In

Bells have been used to summon people to gather together in many historical settings.  As early as the 8th century BC there are depictions of bells in ancient Chinese tablets.  And the oldest bells around today date back to the 5th century BC.  In the early years of our country (and others) bells were common on churches and schools and were used to rally townspeople for meetings of all kinds and even for emergencies.  Think of our famous Liberty Bell.  Their sound carried far and could be heard by those working outside as well as in buildings.  How else might you alert an entire community before the advent of telephone, or electric amplification? The bells had it.  For a very interesting history from a bell manufacturer click here http://www.brosamersbells.com/hist.html

Bells are considered percussion instruments and can be made of many different materials, from clay to wood, glass or metal.  Their size and structure can be changed to give them a variety of pitches and sounds.  If you have ever heard a performance by a good hand bell choir, you will know that they are beautiful sounding instruments.  

As mentioned, bells are associated with schools and education both past and present.  They signal not only the start of the school day but also recess and dismissal so they are considered symbols of freedom from the classroom.  The school bell, if large, was hung in a belfry on top of the building or mounted on the side of the building or in the schoolyard.  Teachers often had a smaller hand bell on their desk, such as the ones pictured below.  They have become symbols of freedom also for retiring educators, memorializing their years of service.  

These brass bells from Apple Awards can be personalized and make a quality gift that will be treasured. Unlike the largest known bell which resides in Moscow and weighs 440,000 lbs. these bells are easily packaged and shipped to you at a reasonable cost.  


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Remembering Excellent Teachers

Junior High was the designation given to seventh and eighth grades back in the dark ages when I went to school in my small midwestern town. Compared to the present, that time was pretty safe. It never occurred to us that someone might bring a gun to school, and gangs were the kids you played ball with after school (well, I guess that's still true – except that's about all we did in our gangs).

 

 

But even back then some of the sharpest, most discerning teachers were put in charge of our learning. They were demanding, but they rewarded every effort and helped us build confidence. It was during those years that I came to know and appreciate Kathryn Coogan and Mary Harnden.

 

Mrs. Coogan was small but powerful. I'm not going to say she was an eccentric dresser but I remember her most vividly as walking down Main Street in her matching coat and beret, heels, and full makeup, especially rouged cheeks. She was precise and careful and she made me want to please her any time she gave an assignment. She was watchful and there was no fooling around in her class. I don't remember ever being uncomfortable with her style of teaching but she was not “our buddy” as some teachers are tempted to be. The lines were clear and she was in charge. English was her forte. Many sentences were diagrammed. I don't know if that is even done anymore but it kind of made parts of speech fun and memorable for me. She made me care how my handwriting looked.

 

Mary Harnden was formidable in a different way. She looked more like a grandmother, but the silent type. I never was quite sure what she was thinking about my work and as a result I learned to critique myself more thoroughly. She taught us to read widely and carefully, among other things.

 

 

The bus I rode to school traveled the road past Mrs. Harnden's house and every day I saw her gardens and wondered when she had time to work in them. I knew some of her own children and admired how they excelled in school. I think she had a hard life in some ways but I'm ashamed that being an average, self-absorbed teen-age girl, I never really knew her. A couple years ago on a visit home, I heard that she was living in the local nursing home and I felt I had to go see her. I wanted to let her know how much I appreciated her as an educator. I don't know if she remembered me or not. I sat across from her at her table and we put a few pieces of her jig saw puzzle together.

 

I don't know what happened when these ladies retired from teaching because I moved away and lost touch with the school. Hopefully, they were celebrated and honored. There's no doubt that they influenced countless young people positively during their careers. I know I will never forget them.

 

Is there a teacher that had an impact on your life? Maybe one you never had a chance to thank?   

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The Minimalist

Who is the minimalist? He/she is the person who puts all their sports trophies (if they had any) and high school awards in a garage sale in favor of a clean, empty shelf. Do you know one of those? Of course they have a lot of other characteristics but this tendency toward bare and uncluttered is pretty prominent.  So how do you recognize them and their achievements without giving them something that is going to annoy them as it sits around the house or office? 

To me, the answer is simple. You award them something too beautiful to throw away, a piece of art, if you will.  And if it is in some way useful, all the better.  I was walking through Apple Awards one day and noticed some sample apples that were not for sale. I actually begged one off the owner because it was just a very cool piece of marble and I wanted it just to look at.  

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Now, if in addition to being beautiful and useful (because it will keep papers from flying off your desk) this objet d'art stood for something, it would have earned its place even on a minimalist's desk.  One of my favorite, recently recognized professionals put it this way,

"There it was, sitting in a felt case. My name and the year engraved into it. Heavy, crystal, its edges softly beveled. Not my decorative taste at all. But I understood the immense value my coworkers and leadership placed on me, to cooperatively choose me from amidst over two thousand employees. The crystal now sits on my desk. I’m not sure if its a paperweight or if it is a standalone piece of art on my monitor stand. I’m a little surprised that I want it to be so visible- it doesn't suit me to advertise. But it reminds me of the things I did to earn it, not intending to be recognized in this way. And how good it felt for my efforts to be acknowledged."  

Yes, it was my daughter writing about her Nordstrom star - similar in quality to the crystal apple I ordered for my teacher friend.  These are beautiful examples of recognition pieces that probably won't be found in a garage sale any time soon.  

 

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I Order An Apple (easy, anybody can do it)

b2ap3_thumbnail_diamond-cut-crystal-apple-14d.jpgThinking a lot today about the value of recognition. I've known quite a few remarkable individuals over the years and have tried to express appreciation to them in various ways, but today I'm wondering what it would be like to let my appreciation be told through Apple Awards. I think I'll order an apple...

 

Ready,. set, go

Hello website: pretty simple to find and know I'm in the right place. Hmm... side bar has a lot of options but I think I'll go for the signature “crystal apple”.

 

Next step:

I need to match the product to it's recipient. My favorite teacher is a high school guidance counselor who is under the stress of carrying out what they refer to as ObamaCore (Common Core) guidelines. There is some change to be grappled with every day just with policies and procedures, let alone the problems the students present. And for years she has volunteered many hours a week to teach a Bible class with over 100 women attending. I want her to have something truly beautiful that will lift her spirits (and everyone else's) every time it's seen. I'm choosing the diamond cut apple. It will catch the light - the product description gives me a good idea of what it will look like on her desk. A note appears telling me that this is a unique item made exclusively by Apple Awards. I love it.

 

 Personalization:

I do a “one click” and my available lines of engraving appear with choices of font and letter size. I'm happy to be able to play around with the arrangement and see a preview of the label every time I change it. We are good to go here.

 

 Checkout:

The website prompts help me navigate through payment, billing and shipping information. As I do the final “submit” a note pops up, asking me to click only once and then be patient while the server responds. Good to know.

 

 Confirmation:

Within minutes I have a confirmation email with greetings from Stacy Hessel, the customer service specialist. My order number and an estimated shipping date are included. A short sentence encourages me to present questions or concerns and because her sign off signature includes “with smiles”,  I think she means it.

 

 My friend Joy is a special person in my life right now, and although I can't afford to buy something of this quality for everyone who fits that description, I know this will make a statement to Joy that will be worth every penny.

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I Value You


b2ap3_thumbnail_awesome.jpgSo, don't we all want to hear that?  How valuable we are to some person, place or organization? Didn't it start when you were a kid wanting to hear from a parent that you were great and that they loved you? Or maybe even before then - like in the crib?  It's possible because we are born looking for approval and some people clash with and agonize over that drive their whole lives. 

 Recognition is a big deal these days. Thinking about this topic, I found articles all over the internet about recognition and it's value to organizations and businesses.  For instance, take Nordstrom department store. I have a family member who has been employed by them for over ten years.  I mark her journey with this company by the many phone calls and texts -

b2ap3_thumbnail_IMG954720.jpg "mom, I got manager of the month",

"my department was highest in sales!",

"mom, there was a ceremony and the whole department was there".

"this happened today" 

It's been pretty obvious that this company has developed a whole culture around recognition. They do it because it is necessary for employee satisfaction and retention. 

 Satisfaction and retention, think about that...  Maybe we should have more of that "culture of recognition" in our work lives, in our educational institutions and maybe even in our families.  Who can you recognize and commend today?

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How Do You Like Them Apples?

b2ap3_thumbnail_20140527_134203_20140619-123645_1.jpg(Excuse my grammar.) Your next question after "how do you like them?" might be "why would someone  want to have one?" Forget about mother Eve - she shouldn't have wanted the apple she got - and don't ask Snow White either, poor thing. So how has the apple come to be a symbol of excellence and accomplishment in education? Good question.

 

Since Apple Awards as a business focuses on awards for educators of all varieties let's look at some of the traditions behind the "apple for the teacher" angle.  

 

Some sources say that as early as the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries people who taught and were poorly paid sometimes received their wages in the form of food items – primarily potatoes and apples. I guess if an apple a day really does keep the doctor away that would have been a pretty good deal. By the late 1800's it was a popular custom in the U.S. to give an apple to the teacher on the first day of school, but now it was more a token of appreciation for their services. It's continued into the 20th and 21st centuries – a custom we share with other countries (Denmark and Sweden). The apple must be a beauty and freshly polished.

 

Of course there are always those who would use the token for their own advancement – hence the term “apple polisher” came into use in the 1920's. When you learned your alphabet, what did “A” stand for? Not arugula, not acrobat, not airplane... yup, apple. So if you wanted an A grade in your schoolwork you might try bribing the teacher with an apple, if you were that kind of student.

 

And to prove the apple's popularity to coerce, in 1939 out came the song “An Apple for the Teacher” sung by Bing Crosby for the film “The Star Maker”. 

 

 

Somewhere along that timeline the apple also became a symbol of growth and change, which is one of the primary goals of education. What better gift for a talented, inspiring teacher than an enduring, beautiful apple for their desk (won't rot or wither, no worms...)

 

 

 

 

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