CRESTVIEW — The Okaloosa County Teachers Federal Credit Union honored three local teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week (May 6-10).

The Credit Union partnered with the Northwest Florida Daily News for a teacher appreciation contest.

Jordan Appelberg, a fourth-grade teacher at Bob Sikes Elementary, was chosen as the elementary school winner. Michelle Cook, a technology teacher at Bruner Middle School and Gina Emery, a science teacher at Niceville High School, were also chosen as winners.

The community chose the winners. Residents voted for the teacher they thought deserved the recognition. The voting took place during April on the Daily News website.

Every teacher in Okaloosa County was entered in the contest. The elementary, middle and high school teacher with the most votes at the end were surprised with a $500 check from the Credit Union.

“I was confused at first,” said Appelberg, the only teacher in Crestview to win. “My kids saw the check first and were asking ‘What’s that?’ and when she came around the corner with it, I started wondering what it was, too."

Appelberg said the recognition is an amazing feeling, but not the reason she teaches.

“I don’t do it to be recognized; I do what I need to do for my kids,” Appelberg said. “You don’t ask for recognition to do things you love.”

Appelberg is in her seventh year teaching, all at Bob Sikes Elementary. Appelberg said she also taught VPK and was a substitute teacher during her time in college.

She got into teaching because of an assignment in seventh grade.

“Chris Small was my geography teacher and he made me fall in love with it,” Appelberg said. “He gave us an assignment where we had to teach a country to the class. I loved making lesson plans.”

Appelberg said her favorite part of the job is when things click for students.

“I love seeing the light bulb come on when a kid who is struggling finally gets it and understands it,” said Appelberg.

Shea Boykin, marketing director for the Credit Union, said the idea for the contest was all about giving back.

“I had a thought that we should do something for Teacher Appreciation Day; we needed to do something big," said Boykin. “It was just simply to tell the teachers that we appreciate all they do."