Columbia, SC (WLTX) - There's a room at Arden Elementary School that doesn't look like your typical classroom. There are no blackboards, smart boards, rulers or calculators. However, the lessons learned in Ms. Dale McLendon's guidance office are ones that her students with never forget.
Fourth grader Ty'kia Carrie describes her relationship with McLendon, "She's very special to me in my life. She helps us with our problems and if like somebody hurts my feelings she's always there for me. "
Ms. McLendon has 21 years of experience as a counselor; however, it's the time before her career began that makes her so relatable to her kids.
"At that time we didn't call it bulling," McLendon explains, "we called it teasing and picking. I got teased and picked on a lot."
Because of personnel experiences she also relates to her student's parents. As a widow just five years after marriage, McLendon knows firsthand the challenges of a single parent household.
"It's hard to give emotionally if you're not getting your needs met," she explains, "so I try to impress that upon my parents, 'take time out for yourself. Make sure you're getting what you need so you can give emotionally and spiritually to your kids.'"
When News19 presented Ms. McLendon with the Golden Apple Award there were two surprises, the first a surprise in the media center, where she was speaking to a group of students. She was thrilled!
Then the whole group ventured to our "second location" to film the rest of the story where she was met by the entire school and a standing ovation!
"It's about teamwork, it's about caring," McLendon told the school though a megaphone and through tears. "It's about unconditional love. It's about going the extra miles. It's about sacrificing and enjoying it... it's about you."
Ty'kia sums of the importance of Ms. McLendon very simply, "She encourage me, she pushes me to try to do my best in things."
Lessons don't really get much more important than that.
If you know of a teacher you think is deserving of the Golden Apple Award, stop by any Midlands' Bi-Lo to pick up a nomination form.