Golden Apple Honors Peoria School Principal as 2019 Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Leadership Recipient

Award honors exemplary performance in school leadership by a principal or head of school

CHICAGO (March 28, 2019) - Golden Apple, a leading Illinois nonprofit committed to recognizing exemplary educators and developing future educators, today surprised Susan Malahy, principal of Charles A. Lindbergh Middle School in Peoria, with the Golden Apple Award 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.

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.

“The principal’s role is complex. Strong principals, such as Susan Malahy, affirm the good people in their buildings, challenge everyone to be their best, and support teachers when they take risks in the best interests of children,” said Alan Mather, President of Golden Apple. “Susan has demonstrated the gifts to lead her school community to build student success.”

Leadership award nominations increased 42% over last year and were received from 28 counties. This is the sixth year that Golden Apple has recognized exceptional school leaders with the Excellence in Leadership Award.

"As school leaders, principals put the success of their students first and the support of their teaching staff at the center their work. The power of their leadership is reflected in the perseverance and accomplishments of their students - and the positive engagement and dedication of the teachers who serve them," said Alicia Winckler, Golden Apple CEO. "Golden Apple is proud to recognize the incredibly important work of school leaders with the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Leadership."

About Susan Malahy

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.

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 conducted on-site observations, interviewed finalists’ colleagues including their direct manager(s), other administrators, and teachers as well as those they serve, including students, parents, and community members.

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.

Recently, Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching recipients were surprised in their classrooms.  The award, which recognizes and honors outstanding teachers for their role in building a stronger, better-educated society, is given to select recipients each year. More information about all award recipients, as well as videos, photos and social media snapshots of the 2019 surprise visits, can be found at

The 2019 award recipients will be featured on a Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) one-hour TV program. The show will be livestreamed on Golden Apple’s Facebook page and will air on multiple dates on PBS.

The nomination period for the 2020 Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching & Leadership opened March 18, 2019.  All are invited to nominate an exceptional Pre-K-12th grade school leader and/or 4th-8th grade Illinois teacher. More information about the awards nomination process can be found at

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

Tony Bosma