Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching & Leadership

 
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The Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching & Leadership was the idea of Golden Apple founders Mike and Patricia Koldyke, who felt that excellent teachers did not receive adequate recognition for their contributions to building a stronger, better-educated society. 

Every year since 1986, Golden Apple has selected outstanding teachers to receive the prestigious Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching. In 2014, Golden Apple began honoring exemplary school leaders with the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Leadership in honor of Stanley C. Golder.

Ten high school teachers and two Pre-K-12th grade school leaders from throughout all Illinois were honored at the Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching & Leadership on May 18, 2019.

 
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2019 Excellence in Leadership Award Recipients

Presented in honor of founding Golden Apple board member, Stanley C. Golder

As principal of Southside Occupational Academy for the past nine years, Joshua Long has been driven by the belief that all students are entitled to a high-quality, individualized education. During this time, he has instituted supports to aid each student’s personal journey of gaining the required skills to be successful, functioning members of their communities upon graduation, including establishing the SOA Center and Community Connections (C3) Hub. The SOA C3 Hub is a centralized space for students to prepare for the school day, access public transportation to travel to a community classroom and practice job readiness skills in a real world environment. Long also formed a partnership with Anixter Center and Safer Foundation to co-author a Kessler Signature Employment Grant, which, along with local funds from the Chicago Community Trust, awarded the group $400,000 to bridge the gap from public education to employment for individuals with disabilities. In addition, Long aligned physical education instruction to all available adult sports with inspiration from the Special Olympics in Chicago Park District Adult Special Recreation programs. The school now competes in 22 sports throughout the year, creating a pathway for students and families to continue their involvement in Special Olympics as adults upon graduation.  During his tenure, the school population has grown from 175 to 300 students and the school has expanded from one building to three, with two on one site and the SOA C3 Hub at a separate location.  He has worked with school staff to revolutionize classrooms into functional learning labs, led efforts to author a school-wide competency-based curriculum complete with a tablet-based progress monitoring tool, and guided the counseling team to cultivate a school environment focused on restorative practices. This transformation led to the creation of behavioral expectations and establishing a school-wide system of positive behavioral supports.  Prior to becoming principal at Southside Occupational Academy, Long spent 10 years as a Speech Language Pathologist in Chicago Public Schools.

Joshua Long
Southside Occupational Academy

Principal

As principal of Southside Occupational Academy for the past nine years, Joshua Long has been driven by the belief that all students are entitled to a high-quality, individualized education. During this time, he has instituted supports to aid each student’s personal journey of gaining the required skills to be successful, functioning members of their communities upon graduation, including establishing the SOA Center and Community Connections (C3) Hub. The SOA C3 Hub is a centralized space for students to prepare for the school day, access public transportation to travel to a community classroom and practice job readiness skills in a real world environment. Long also formed a partnership with Anixter Center and Safer Foundation to co-author a Kessler Signature Employment Grant, which, along with local funds from the Chicago Community Trust, awarded the group $400,000 to bridge the gap from public education to employment for individuals with disabilities. In addition, Long aligned physical education instruction to all available adult sports with inspiration from the Special Olympics in Chicago Park District Adult Special Recreation programs. The school now competes in 22 sports throughout the year, creating a pathway for students and families to continue their involvement in Special Olympics as adults upon graduation.

During his tenure, the school population has grown from 175 to 300 students and the school has expanded from one building to three, with two on one site and the SOA C3 Hub at a separate location.  

He has worked with school staff to revolutionize classrooms into functional learning labs, led efforts to author a school-wide competency-based curriculum complete with a tablet-based progress monitoring tool, and guided the counseling team to cultivate a school environment focused on restorative practices. This transformation led to the creation of behavioral expectations and establishing a school-wide system of positive behavioral supports.

Prior to becoming principal at Southside Occupational Academy, Long spent 10 years as a Speech Language Pathologist in Chicago Public Schools.



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Susan Malahy
Charles A. Lindbergh Middle School

Principal

Susan Malahy has spent the past five years as principal of Charles A. Lindbergh Middle School with a determination to build relationships between teachers, students and families. Six years ago, when enrollment opened to students of different backgrounds and life experiences across Peoria, her teachers faced challenges they had not yet encountered including class size increases. Malahy worked to bridge the gap of the increased enrollment and subsequent challenges by crafting professional development for teachers that helped them learn about their students, and included a virtual tour of the different neighborhoods (both affluent and those with high crime rates) in which they lived. She focused on providing resources like the Olweus Bully Prevention program and On-The-Spot Intervention to better understand their students. She worked to create an ecosystem of support at the school between teachers, where those who had existing experience working with challenging students provided guidance to peers.

This mentorship and support model also was implemented to enrich teaching practices across the school. Malahy enlisted the top teachers in each content area to become leaders, modeling and coaching others. She implemented vertical teams, engaging teachers in learning from each other through peer observations and regular discussions to truly understand the standards and implement best practices. Malahy believes it is important that teachers use data to see where students are performing in relation to peers nationally and this helps engage teachers in making data-informed decisions for their students.

Lindbergh Middle School has been the beneficiary of several new practices brought in by Malahy, including: engaging students in taking ownership of their learning; advancing learning opportunities which allow students to take high school Enriched Algebra and Spanish before school as well as online courses for remediation and enrichment; and introducing the “Leader in Me”, which has provided growth for staff and students to develop 21st century leadership and life skills to reach their full potential.

After five years with Malahy as principal, Lindbergh Middle School students and teachers have felt the positive culture change while connections between students, their school, their teachers, and parents have been well-established.


 

2019 Excellence in Teaching Award Recipients 

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Rebecca McCrary
Du Quoin High School

9th-12th Grade
Spanish

McCrary’s passion for the Spanish language is infectious, according to her students. But her dedication to her students’ success is what makes them love her so much. In addition to keeping her door open before and after school for those who need extra help, her students know she is always available and willing to listen whenever they need her support. Her faculty colleagues say she is dedicated beyond measure and that she has added so much to the Spanish curriculum including a new student club which offers a college scholarship for one graduating senior each year. She is described by parents and colleagues as much more than a teacher - she is a mentor, a role model, a counselor and a coach to all of her students. She earned her Masters Degree in Spanish Literature in 2010.


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Heather Monson
United Township High School

10th Grade
College Prep World History, World History, Senior Level Critical Thinking Western Civilization

The subjects Monson teaches include College Prep World History, World History, Senior Level Critical Thinking and Western Civilization. Her principal says she is an outstanding teacher who champions the improvement of her students, her colleagues, the school culture and her own professional development. Her work with the National Council for the Social Studies and the Illinois State Board of Education has impacted education both locally and nationally. She has recently connected nine students with State Senators through the Youth Advisory Council which led to their active participation in the governmental process. She championed the inclusion of 35 students as election judges in the 2019 local, county and state elections. Monson worked to include ethics modules in course teachings through a local college program, which led to multiple scholarship opportunities for her students. She has helped her students attain an estimated $200,000 in college scholarships in the past five years. She is committed to organizing many volunteer and charitable giving events at United Township. She has coordinated and chaperoned student trips to Chicago, Puerto Rico and Europe. An avid life-long learner, Monson completed her Masters Degree in History in 2017. She is the faculty sponsor of the National Honors Society.


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Leticia Raygoza
Phoenix Military Academy

10th-12th Grade
AP Spanish Language and AP Spanish Literature

Raygoza teaches AP Spanish Language and AP Spanish Literature to grades 10 - 12. She believes that student voice and choice are what students need in order to feel empowered within their learning environment. Her main goal is for all of her students to succeed and she works diligently to help all of her students earn the AP credit they are capable of achieving. Throughout the school year Raygoza spends Friday nights once per month teaching her AP students additional “catch-up” classes so they remain on track to succeed on the AP exam, despite having fewer in-school days than other districts due to a later start to the school year. She also holds four Saturday morning AP practice exams for her students to simulate test day conditions and to help them identify the areas they need to work most on leading up to the exam date. Her students’ track record of success in achieving AP credits is unprecedented. Since 2013 her students have improved from 78% of her class achieving a passing score to 90%+, every year.


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Greta Kringle
Eric Solorio Academy High School

10th-12th Grade
AP Environmental Science, Honors Chemistry and Junior Seminar (College Readiness)

Kringle teaches 10th-12th grade students AP Environmental Science, Honors Chemistry and Junior Seminar (College Readiness). In her role as chair of the Science Department at Solorio, Kringle recently introduced a new course, AP Environmental Science, and her students’ scores on that AP exam have already improved by 10 percent in two years. Under her leadership, the Varsity Girls Soccer team was promoted to the highest league of competition in Chicago after an incredible season that ended with the team winning their conference. Her Varsity Girls Soccer student-athletes earned a program record 3.5 team GPA in 2018 after Kringle instituted mandatory study halls and program-wide academic check-ins. This year, Kringle took on the additional role of assistant cross-country coach. Kringle is the school’s service learning coordinator and helps facilitate many service learning trips which help students build respect and appreciation for their local community. Her colleagues say she is a “bundle of joy” and her students say she is fearless, inspiring and does everything she can to make them feel empowered and loved.


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Angela Young
Southside Occupational Academy

12th Grade
Cooperative Work Training Teacher, Special Education Vocational Training

Young is a Cooperative Work Training and Special Education Vocational Training teacher for 12th graders at Southside Occupational, a school that services students with disabilities and is a transition center that prepares students to live more independently. Students receive real-world work experiences while in high school. The school has partnered with a variety of businesses across Chicago to give career skills to students. Young’s principal says her work has helped to revolutionize and expand the career training services provided to transition-aged students with special needs within Chicago Public Schools. Her hard work, grit and perseverance have led to many new community partnerships that have yielded learning opportunities within new professional sectors such as food service, hospitality, central supply and transportation in addition to environmental services. Young is dedicated to helping her students find employment post-graduation and spends many hours assisting students with job applications and selecting appropriate work attire, as well as teaching interview skills. She constantly is expanding her programming to benefit her students so they may have more independent lives upon graduation.


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Catherine Ross-Cook
Homewood-Flossmoor High School

9th & 12th Grade
AP Literature and Composition and English 1 College Prep

Her colleagues say Ross-Cook has a genuine passion for the teaching profession. She is committed to preparing her students with outstanding educational opportunities, while creating a solid foundation for personal growth and academic success. Her colleagues say she goes out of her way to cultivate a warm and supportive environment in her classroom while maintaining high standards. She makes her students feel known and loved. Her students describe her as inspiring, selfless and authentic. She is also the head coach of the two-time nationally ranked Steppers dance team. Ross-Cook came up through the ranks at her school. She began working in Homewood-Flossmoor in academic support services and discovered that she wanted to teach. So, she took a job as a security guard to pay for her education degree, was a student teacher at the school, and has served as a full-time teacher there for nine years.


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Erin Unander
Lake View High School

9th-12th Grade
Mathematics Department Leader and Teacher

In her teaching, Unander places great emphasis on access and equity in math education. With a student body that is culturally and socioeconomically diverse, Unander strives to create lessons that are culturally relevant and unbiased. Her goal is to take every student from where s/he is to where s/he should be -- and that path is different for each of her students. Lake View High School Principal Paul Karafiol credits Unander with successfully turning around the school’s entire math department over the past three years. Math teachers and students are reaping the benefits of her hard work. For the first time in the school’s recent history, students are showing expected year-to-year gains in mathematics. Unander’s students say they love her enthusiasm, energy and the genuine interest that she has for what’s happening in their lives. They say she believes in them and challenges them to be better, even when they are doing well.



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Corey Winchester
Evanston Township High School

11th & 12th Grade

United States History (Honors and AP), Sociology of Class, Gender and Race and Critical Leadership Development

Winchester considers every interaction with families and students in and out of the classroom to be urgent. He says that time with high school students goes by quickly and every moment counts. His work focuses on helping students and families with marginalized identities find success in education. He uses history as a vehicle to help students develop a sense of self, a consciousness for others and a sense of community. Winchester is known at Evanston Township High School for his passion for teaching and his commitment to equality. His colleagues say he builds and sustains relationships that are grounded in trust and respect with students, parents and peers. Parents of students say that having Winchester as a teacher can profoundly change the trajectory of students’ lives for the better. In his classroom, there is no failure. He finds a way to help all of his students succeed.


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Judith Tyler
Maine East High School

11th & 12th Grade
AP Biology, Gifted Lyceum Leadership for Life 1 and 2, Teacher/Instructional Coach

Tyler works with her students to help them become aware of their own potential, their own biases and their perspectives through lessons, experiences and reflections that expand their knowledge of complex societal issues. She empowers her students to work to solve the inequality that faces our nation through service and understanding. Her colleagues say she has played a significant role in helping to build a learning culture at Maine East High School which has resulted in increased levels of achievement for all students. Tyler also contributed to the development of a robust selection of Advanced Placement and Dual Credit course offerings, and an ever-expanding system of academic supports and interventions for students at every level of achievement. Parents of her students say Tyler teaches much more than a subject; she teaches her students how to be good people and world citizens. She is the teacher who makes students want to come to school every day. She is an inspiration to the entire community and is the heart of the school.


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Sara Blair Winter-Rosenberg
Mundelein High School

9th-12th Grade
Spanish for Heritage Learners

Teaching appealed to Winter-Rosenberg because she saw the opportunity to combine her main passions of literacy, travel, and social justice, while making a positive impact on the world every day. She is passionate in her belief that education is a means to social justice. She is zealous in her efforts to create inclusive environments for students and helps to  provide the same opportunities to all students, regardless of their backgrounds. The core goals of her classroom are that her students become lifelong readers, think critically and question the inequities in the world around them, feel proud and capable as bilingual and biliterate Latinos, and treat everyone respectfully. Her students say that she has empowered them to feel great pride in their culture and language and celebrates them with enthusiasm. They say she has spent countless hours helping them with college applications, college essays and scholarship applications and that they “carry her influence with them everywhere.”


 

2019 Golden Apple Awards For Excellence in Teaching & Leadership Finalists 

Each year, we celebrate our teacher and school leader finalists at the Celebration of Excellence in Teaching & Leadership. The Celebration of Excellence puts the spotlight on our finalists and highlights the impact they are making in their school communities. This year, we honored 32 high school teachers as finalists for the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching and eight Pre-K-12th grade school leaders as finalists for the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Leadership – generously sponsored by the Stanley C. Golder Family.

Excellence in Teaching Award Finalists

Excellence in Leadership Finalists

 
 

ACADEMY OF EDUCATORS

Golden Apple Award recipients become lifetime members of the Golden Apple Academy of Educators.

 
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Watch the 2018 Golden Apple Awards