This school year has been unlike any other for our educators, and we want to honor them for their dedication. We are kicking off a brand new series we're calling the 69 News Golden Apple Awards.
Rebecca Bitting is the librarian at Trexler and Raub Middle Schools who has been fighting for years to make sure her kids are getting the latest technology. At the same time, she's also been fighting for her life.
Jared Bitting can still remember spotting his future wife at a college semi-formal, 20 years ago.
"She just looked beautiful, and couldn't resist going over and asking her to dance," he says, smiling at his wife, Rebecca.
There were two men interested in Rebecca that night. But Jared won.
"He was the first one to ask me out!" she says.
He adds, "Under 24 hours!"
It was only fitting that their first date, involved their future careers.
"We went to get our TB test done for student teaching together!" they laugh.
Their tests were a negative, but they were positively smitten.
They got married, had a son, Logan, and settled into education careers, Jared teaching at Fleetwood Middle School, Rebecca serving as a librarian at Trexler and Raub Middle Schools.
She is passionate about getting kids technology equipment, that they'd use for their future. In fact, it was while she was in school in December 2019 for a second master's to help do more of that, when she got a devastating diagnosis.
"The day after Christmas, I went into the hospital with very sharp pains," she says.
The doctors found pancreatic cancer. After rounds of chemo and surgery they told her a few months ago there is nothing more they can do.
"Don't always think that there's tomorrow," Rebecca says, "because there isn't always a tomorrow."
Rebecca said a goodbye to her staff at Raub with a request: she'd been working to get equipment for a STEM lab in the library. She was afraid that would be forgotten.
But the staff didn't forget. In fact, they are naming their STEM new lab after her, to always remember her.
"We wanted to make her always a part of Raub and as long as... kids are doing projects with things that she wanted or things that she got, we'll always keep her alive in our building as part of our family," says Raub Counselor Sylvia Gordon.
"It just really makes me proud of them," Rebecca says as she tears up. "They're my second family and I'm really happy they're doing this."
Now that Rebecca knows her life's work will be carried on, the Bitting family is now focusing on what else matters most:
"Enjoy the time you have, with the one you love," Jared says simply.
Rebecca adds, "It's always 'I'll do that when I retire' or 'I'll do that later in life' or 'when I'm done raising my kids' or this or that. Make the time, because you don't know how much time you have."
With the time they do have, this family is soaking up the memories -- the love and lessons, and the life that started with a dance.
For her passion for her students, her work to go for not one, but two master's degrees, and for the legacy her school says she is so deserving of, Rebecca Bitting is our very first 69 News Golden Apple Award winner.