DECATUR — For more than three decades, Cindy Thompson has had an impact on  thousands of students.

With her students calling her "Mrs. Cindy", Thompson builds relationships lasting far beyond her classroom at Newton County Elementary School. 


Bianca Moorman/The Meridian Star

Newton County Elementary teacher Cindy Thompson, the Golden Apple Teacher for February, helps Cason Dean in class. 


“Teaching is a great career," said Thompson, the Golden Apple Teacher for February.

When she was recognized with the award on Feb. 11, Thompson thought a few visitors were coming to see the colorful decorations in her classroom. 

She was shocked when her name was announced over the school's intercom.

“It was very surprising and it was such an honor,” she said. "It was such a great moment with my children in the classroom.”

The third grade teacher is the second teacher from the school to receive the award this year. She's also the fifth teacher from the school to garner the honor. 

Thompson, who taught kindergarten for 14 years before moving to second grade, is part of a loop cycle at Newton County Elementary, where her second-graders follow her to third grade.

Growing up, she either wanted to be a teacher to a nurse.  

"I had a school with my baby dolls," she recalled. “I can’t remember not wanting to be a teacher.”

Thompson said her best moments as a teacher are when students finally understand a difficult concept. 

“That one child benefited from that one strategy I was dreading on presenting that day,” she said. “That's a moment that just stands out for me.”


Bianca Moorman/The Meridian Star

Thompson helps Adrain Brogan during a lesson at Newton County Elementary School.


Thompson said that even on tough days, she looks forward to seeing her kids each morning.  

“They always come in with smiles on their faces,” she said. “I think that's what keeps me going...I love teaching and I love my kids.”

High marks

A nomination letter from a parent described Thompson as an innovator in her classroom, who finds ways to make the material easy to understand.

For example, Thompson has created interactive activities such as a glow in the dark number line and a construction site. 

“For many educators teaching is a job, but for this teacher, it's a calling,” an administrator wrote in a nomination letter. 

“She encourages and inspires not only in the classroom but also her student activities outside of a school seeing,” a letter from a grandparent reads. 

The Golden Apple Award

Thompson received a Golden Apple Teacher of the Month Certificate, a $300 cash award, and a $1,000 continuing education voucher from Avery Products, and $1,300 in school supplies.

The monthly winners will be invited to the Golden Apple Teacher of the Year banquet and that winner will receive a special award on stage (The Meridian Star article), a custom-made Teacher of the Year Trophy, $2,500 cash to be used at their discretion and a $2,500 scholarship to be awarded to a deserving student in the teacher’s name. An announcement should be made in May 2021. 

Meridian Community College is the title sponsor. Golden Apple Award Partners in Education key sponsors are The Meridian Star, The Meridian Family of Stations Bounce TV and MeTV of Meridian, EMEPA, Mississippi Power, Avery Products, Woodstock Furniture and College Savings of Mississippi. Participating sponsors are Meridian Coca-Cola Bottling and Kedplasma.

How to nominate an educator

Nominations for the monthly Golden Apple Award can be submitted by parents, faculty, or community members as well as past or present students. Candidates must be a current, full-time, faculty member in Pre-K through 12th grade (public or private) and work in the following counties: Lauderdale, Neshoba, Kemper, Clarke, and Newton in Mississippi; and Choctaw and Sumter in Alabama.

The nomination process consists of an essay (no more than 500 words) detailing why the person should be considered for the award. Nomination details and an entry form are available online at