This year’s Golden Apple recipients are some of the very best teachers in the state. One of those teachers, Michael Anderson, is working to build trust with his students through movement. 

For more than two decades, Michael Anderson has been helping the students at Inez Elementary School in Albuquerque get moving.

“Kids in elementary school just want to play. They want to move their bodies. They need to move their bodies,” Anderson said. “I’m still the adult in the room, but I love to play and I love to watch kids laugh. I love joking with them. It just fits. It’s pretty amazing.” 

But for Anderson, the movement is also a means to an end.

“My goal is to make sure I build relationships with these kids so that they trust me. Then I can ask them to do just about anything—climb a wall, roll on a rollerblade, or just about anything—and they’re willing to try it because they know I’m going to be safe and I’m going to take care of their emotional needs, and we’re just going to play and have fun, and laugh and enjoy each other,” he said. 

As they bust down barriers in the gym, they are learning important lessons. 

“In my gym, I have one wall that has ‘respect’ written across it, and every year the kids sign their names on the wall. It’s kind of a contract,” Anderson said. “I’m trying to do my best to be respectful to you, and you’re going to be respectful of our environment, and yourself, and our school and each other.” 

“She’s climbing, she’s working hard to get to the top, she gets up there, and she turns around and she looks at me—and that look is a look that I look for in every activity that we do, whether it be jump roping or throwing or catching. When they get it, when they finally get that feeling and you see that face, it’s like, that’s why I teach.”

That dedication landed Anderson among this year’s Golden Apple winners. 

“It feels wonderful, but there are so many other teachers out there who are working their tail off, working just as hard as I am, who need to be recognized as well. So I’m going to go back and share this with my whole school, and the staff and the students, and this is because of them,” Anderson said. 

Out of high school, Anderson moved from Roswell to Albuquerque to pursue a degree in music, but quickly switched to physical education.