Golden Apple Surprises Chicago Teacher Anita Unzueta With Prestigious Award For Excellence In Teaching

CHICAGO (March 21, 2018) - Golden Apple, a leading Illinois nonprofit committed to developing great teachers, today surprised Anita Unzueta, a second grade bilingual teacher at Little Village Academy in Chicago, with the highly respected Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching. The annual award, which recognizes and honors outstanding teachers for their role in building a stronger, better-educated society, was presented to Unzueta in front of students, family and school leadership.

Created by founders Mike and Pat Koldyke, Golden Apple’s mission is to inspire, develop and support teacher and school leader excellence in Illinois, especially in schools-of-need. The 2018 award recipients were selected from a record-setting number of nominations - more than 650 nominations, and represent Pre-K through 3rd grade teachers from the Chicagoland area. Fellow educators, students, parents and community members nominate teachers for the award each year.

About Anita Unzueta

Teaching in a neighborhood in which most students face significant challenges due to gang violence, poverty and crime, Anita feels it is her responsibility to walk into school each morning with a positive attitude and open mind to help every one of her students. She believes in the power of setting high expectations and big goals and holds her students accountable for working hard every day. Having come from a similar background of growing up in a gang-infested neighborhood while attending a public school, Anita understands the importance of providing a safe and secure school environment for her students. She believes that education is most effective when families are involved in student learning and activities, and her effort to develop relationships with parents has helped her to understand the emotional needs of her students better. For several years, Anita has facilitated social and emotional parent workshops to help parents promote a home culture of trust and communication. In partnership with the school counselor, Anita works to help her students’ families find the support they need from school and community resources. She is a tireless advocate for her students’ success. Her students experience a positive learning culture in which they feel appreciated, respected and loved each day.

Anita is also a graduate of the Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois Program, which provides intensive preparation and mentoring to aspiring teachers who commit to teaching in an Illinois school-of-need for five years.

“Golden Apple is proud to recognize this year’s award recipients for their exceptional accomplishments in the classroom,” said Alicia Winckler, Golden Apple president and CEO. “Each of the recipients is uniquely talented and epitomizes the dedication, skill and drive in the teaching profession that facilitates better futures for scores of young people.”

More information on each award recipient, as well as videos, photos and social media snapshots of the 2018 surprise visits, can be found at

Golden Apple’s selection committee is comprised of college and university professors, educational experts, administrators and former Golden Apple Award recipients who use industry and research-based professional standards to identify exemplary educators and school leaders. Members of the selection committee observed finalists’ classrooms, and also interviewed their colleagues, administrators, students and parents during the selection process.

Northwestern University provides each Golden Apple Award recipient with a tuition-free, spring quarter sabbatical to study at Northwestern University. Each recipient also receives a $5,000 cash award. Award recipients become Fellows of the Golden Apple Academy of Educators, giving them a stronger voice and a larger stage from which to make a difference in education.

Golden Apple soon will be awarding the 2018 Stanley C. Golder Leadership Award, which honors an exceptional principal/head of school. All recipients will be featured on May 19 on a WTTW one-hour TV program and livestream marketed to local school communities. To view the livestream, visit

About Golden Apple

Founded in 1985, Golden Apple innovates teacher preparation and leadership to transform both the careers of teachers as well as the lives of students in Illinois. Its signature initiative, the Golden Apple Scholars Program, provides exceptional teacher preparation, resources and lifelong support to advance educational excellence for Illinois’ most underserved students in schools-of-need. Aspiring teachers/Scholars are recruited from the communities in which they return to serve -- with a passion for teaching and a drive to create positive change for young people in their communities. Scholars commit to teach at an Illinois school-of-need for five years after graduation. More than 1,000 Scholars currently are teaching across Illinois. Visit for more information.

Media contact:

Kellie Kennedy