Congratulations to the newest recipients of the Golden Apple Award, a program of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce to honor excellence in teaching.

Honored with the award this week were Katherine Hargrove of Jefferson Elementary School, Erin Snodgrass of Cecil Floyd Elementary School, Darbi Stancell of McAuley Catholic High School and Tashena Vickers of South Middle School.

Parents and students who nominated these four educators wrote about the love and passion they have for their profession, their dedication to student learning and the positive influence they have on the lives of their pupils.

That much was clear when the teachers themselves spoke to the Globe, as they expressed a sadness that they were no longer in class with their students each day because of the coronavirus pandemic. Make no mistake — they never stopped working, even though in-person classes were halted. Like their peers, they persevered in difficult conditions to ensure that their classes continued and that their pupils were learning.

Well done to the 2020 Golden Apple Award winners.

Speaking of professionals going above and beyond the call of duty, we’re reminded of Erik Martin, who was profiled on the front page of the Globe last Sunday.

Martin, a Joplin physician, recently returned from a month in New York City, the epicenter of the U.S. coronavirus pandemic. He worked in a newly opened COVID field hospital, treating overflow patients from the city’s public hospitals.

It was hard, demanding work, he told the Globe. Some of his patients would live; some would die. He connected grieving individuals with their dying loved ones by technology, witnessing the heartbreak of families who couldn’t say goodbye in person. He missed his wife and two children, who were safely at home in Joplin. His entire world consisted of his hotel room and the hospital in which he worked.

He is since back home and recharged, with bags packed and ready to head out again should the need arise. “I think it’s my duty to help wherever I can,” he told us. “I’m an ER doctor. That’s what I’m trained to do. I feel like it’s my duty to help. That’s what I’m supposed to do. It’s the right thing to do. It’s what I ought to do.”

That kind of inspiring attitude will literally save lives. Thank you for your selfless service on the front lines of the pandemic.

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