Golden Apple Surprises Evanston Teacher Kristin Mitchell With Prestigious Award For Excellence In Teaching

CHICAGO (March 23, 2018) - Golden Apple, a leading Illinois nonprofit committed to developing great teachers, today surprised Kristin Mitchell, a kindergarten teacher at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Literary and Fine Arts School in Evanston, 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 Mitchell 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 Kristin Mitchell

Recently Kristin’s work has focused on implementing new ways to help close the achievement gap in her school as early as possible. Data has shown that once the learning deficit is established in younger grades, it becomes increasingly difficult to close as students progress through elementary school. Adapting to new teaching methods has been intense and difficult for Kristin at times, but evidence of success shared by teachers in the district who piloted the program has given her the motivation to push forward and try harder. Kristin is passionate about helping families of all backgrounds to feel welcomed and included in the school community. She believes an engaged community that includes family involvement is essential for students to succeed. She contributes to the School Climate Team’s effort to understand and improve families’ experiences within the school community. Within her classroom, she works hard to build relationships between her students. Her class “peace table” is where students sit down together to resolve their differences. Classroom activities often require collaboration, such as puzzle solving, to foster teamwork and communication. Kristin believes she must always be learning, just like her students. Her intellectual curiosity and dedication to professional development are evident through continual refinement and improvement of her classroom instruction. Parents of her students and fellow school educators say she fosters a positive, calm environment where children love to learn every day.

“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