Oakdale middle school educator is local Applebee’s chain’s Teacher of the Year


Oakdale-Bohemia Middle School teacher Michele Russo brings out the best in her students.

So says seventh grader Olive DeMarco, who successfully nominated her favorite educator for Doherty-owned Long Island Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar‘s Teacher of the Year Award.

The award, given to Russo this week, is part of the restaurant group’s 6th annual Above and “BEE”yond Teacher Essay Contest. Each year, the group invites students to nominate the classroom educators that make a difference in their lives.

The English/language arts teacher received a $500 sponsorship check that she can use toward purchases for the classroom for the 2022-23 school year. The restaurant group will also throw an end-of-year party for her class this school year inside the school in Oakdale.

“Mrs. Russo makes sure that students are doing the best they can do and always determined to improve everyday,” Olive wrote in her essay. “She challenges students to new tasks everyday that make progress in our reading comprehension and writing skills. She gives us amazing, brilliant tips and advice that help me to academically improve as a 7th grade student.”

Doherty Enterprises Vice President of Casual Dining Kurt Pahlitzsch said the essay contest is a way for the restaurant group to give back to the communities it serves.

“It allows us to honor and support our neighborhood schoolteachers, while giving their students a fun party to celebrate the end of the school year,” he said.

Below is Olive’s nomination essay

Featured image: Student Olive DeMarco and English teacher Michele Russo.