Finalists for Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Leadership Announced

Principals/heads of school from throughout Illinois recognized for incredible work

CHICAGO (February 7, 2019) -- Golden Apple, a leading Illinois nonprofit committed to recognizing exemplary educators and developing future educators, today announced the 2019 finalists for the distinguished Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Leadership, presented in honor of founding Golden Apple board member Stanley C. Golder. This year marked the first time in Golden Apple’s history that school leaders from all of Illinois were eligible for nomination.

Eight Pre-K through 12th-grade principals/heads of school were selected as 2019 finalists. Leadership award nominations increased 42% over last year and were received from 28 counties, with six counties being represented at the finalist stage. This is the sixth year that Golden Apple has recognized exceptional school leaders with the Excellence in Leadership Award.

The Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Leadership honors exemplary performance in school leadership by a principal or head of school who has had a significant and sustained positive impact on the school, created a culture of inclusivity, and delivered dramatic student growth.

Fellow educators, students, parents, and community members nominate school leaders for the awards. School leaders may not self-nominate.

“As a former school leader, I have a keen understanding of the opportunities and challenges that these finalists encounter,” said Alan Mather, President of Golden Apple and the first recipient of the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Leadership. “It’s a tremendous honor to recognize the stellar work of these principals and heads of school.”

“School leaders serve a critical role in the success of schools -- from establishing a strong vision and culture of exemplary education to ensuring that any barriers to learning are removed, implementing systems and structures that reliably support teachers, and creating a positive environment that allows the students to focus on their learning and life goals,” said Alicia Winckler, Golden Apple CEO. “Golden Apple is thrilled to showcase leaders who optimize the education environment for students.”

View the 2019 Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Leadership Award Finalists

The finalists for the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching were announced earlier this week and information about this elite group of teachers can be found here.

All award finalists will be honored on Saturday, February 23 at the Golden Apple Celebration of Excellence to be held at the Tinley Park Convention Center. Event details and tickets are available at

Leadership Award recipients are selected by master educators and school leaders who understand and recognize balanced and collaborative leadership and who utilize professional standards to assess the culture, innovation, and outcomes achieved by exemplary school leaders.  Members of the selection committee are previous Award recipients, district and university leaders who will conduct on-site observations, interviewing finalists’ colleagues including their direct manager(s), other administrators, and teachers as well as those they serve, including students, parents, and community members.

The 2019 Golden Apple Award recipient(s) will be notified in the spring with surprise visit(s) at their schools.  

The selected award recipients will be featured on a Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) one-hour TV program. The livestream of the show taping will air on Golden Apple’s Facebook page on May 18, 2019, and the edited PBS broadcast will air on multiple future dates.

The Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Leadership recipient receives a cash award of $10,000 with $5,000 going toward the leader’s professional development and $5,000 to the school for a project of the recipient’s choosing. Award recipients also become Fellows of the Golden Apple Academy of Educators, a community of educators who support current and future teachers and deepen the learning of students. An important part of a Fellows’ mission is to share their expertise and mentor Golden Apple Scholars, who are aspiring teachers with a desire to teach in Illinois’ schools-of-need.

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:

Eileen Rochford

AwardsTony Bosma