2015 Chicagoland Golden Apple Award Recipients Surprised with Prestigious Honor

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Golden Apple celebrates 30 years of recognizing outstanding teachers and their work that transforms students’ lives

Golden Apple, a leading nonprofit committed to celebrating and developing great teachers with the ability and passion to make life-changing differences in the lives of students, today surprised three teachers in the area with the highly respected Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching. The awards recognize and honor outstanding teachers for their roles in building a stronger, better-educated society. The 2015 recipients were selected from a pool of more than 600 nominations, and represent Pre-K-3rd grade teachers throughout Chicago and the surrounding suburbs.

Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching recipients surprised on May 11:

Mr. John Campbell, band & music teacher, Ravinia Elementary School, Highland Park (College degrees from Kent State University and Michigan State University)

John Campbell’s goal as a teacher is to provide students with an opportunity to engage in music education in a way that will influence their musical futures. He believes in creating “real world” experiences for his students where they learn in the classroom and then transfer that learning to the community. Every week, his students participate in “Musical Share” where they perform for their classmates. His classroom also received a grant to purchase ukuleles, and Campbell created an after-school ukulele club where students performed throughout the community. Campbell also maintains a digital presence through blogging, Tweeting, and YouTube tutorials, in order for his students to remain engaged outside of class.

Ms. Phyllis LaCour, Pre-K teacher, Pulaski International School of Chicago, Chicago, IL (College degrees from Concordia University Chicago and Columbia College Chicago)

In her classroom, Phyllis LaCour believes that everyone has the right to a rich and meaningful educational experience. She also is an advocate of children’s right to play in preschool. LaCour respects unique learning styles, and believes that expression is important…from singing and dancing to writing. She believes it is essential to work with parents to ensure that they are getting a strong educational experience, by communicating what is happening inside the classroom, and providing tips on how learning can extend to the home. In LaCour’s classroom, she lives by the motto that children have unique capabilities and limitless opportunities to learn.

Ms. Monica Prinz, first grade teacher, Gillespie Elementary, Chicago, IL (College degrees from Chicago State University and Loyola University)

Teaching at a school in an impoverished area of an urban community, Monica Prinz knows that parents often cannot afford school materials. With this in mind, Prinz applies for many grants throughout the year to lessen the burden for students’ parents. Not only does she help her students, but the rest of her school as well. She received a grant for 5,000 books, which she distributed throughout the primary classrooms of her school. She also received a grant for K-2nd grade students to take a field trip to the zoo. As another example of Prinz’s commitment and dedication to her students, she believes it is important for her students to know where healthy food comes from, so she found resources in her community to plant a garden of different foods for her classroom.

Additional information and photos of award recipients can be found on social media:

“These teachers are shining examples of the dedication, perseverance, innovation and encouragement that empower students to grow and recognize their abilities to excel in life,” said Dominic Belmonte, president and CEO of Golden Apple. “As Golden Apple celebrates its 30th anniversary of recognizing remarkable teachers, I am so proud to honor the 2015 Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching recipients for all they do to educate and inspire young minds.”

For 30 years, Golden Apple has recognized outstanding teachers throughout Illinois each year. Created by founders Mike and Pat Koldyke, Golden Apple’s mission is to inspire, develop and support teacher excellence in Illinois. Each Golden Apple Award recipient receives a tuition-free, spring quarter sabbatical to study at Northwestern University, and a $5,000 cash award.

Golden Apple does more than just award those teachers who embody excellence; the nonprofit also supports them and creates ways for them to mentor new teachers. Golden Apple Award recipients also play a critical role in furthering the programs of Golden Apple, particularly as members of the faculty who help prepare Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois program participants to become future teachers in schools of need throughout Illinois. The Scholars program has prepared more than 1,500 college students to teach in schools of need in Illinois. Learn more here about the Class of 2015 scholars (200 total, largest class in program’s history) that recently was announced.

A tribute dinner gala honoring founders Patricia and Martin "Mike" Koldyke in support of and celebrating the 30th anniversary of The Golden Apple Foundation will take place on September 24, 2015 in Chicago, with special guest Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. The 2015 Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching recipients will be honored at an awards ceremony on October 30, 2015 at WTTW/Channel 11 Studios in Chicago. WTTW will broadcast the awards in a one-hour television program following the event.

Distinguished retired teachers, college/university professors, administrators, and former Golden Apple Award recipients serve on Golden Apple’s selection committee. Committee members applied research-based professional standards to identify teachers who exemplify the highest standards and practices of the teaching profession. The selection process included classroom observations of all award finalists and interviews with colleagues, administrators, students, and parents.

Nominations for the 2016 Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching will open later this month. The Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching concentrate on specific grade levels each year, and the 2016 Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching will honor teachers in grades 9-12. Teachers who are eligible for nomination must be full-time classroom teachers at public or non-public schools within Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry or Will counties.

Golden Apple also soon will be awarding the recipient of the 2015 Stanley C. Golder Award, which honors exceptional principals and heads of schools.

About Golden Apple
2015 marks Golden Apple’s 30th year of innovating teacher preparation to transform both the careers of teachers, as well as the lives of students in Illinois. Our focus is on advancing educational excellence for Illinois’ most under-served students. We begin by recognizing high school and collegiate talent with a passion for teaching and a drive to create positive change for students and their communities. We enhance their college education with exemplary advanced teacher preparation, game-changing resources and lifelong support, through our Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois program.

Golden Apple is composed of recognized superior educators, including Golden Apple Award recipients and finalists, leading a passionate team of devoted staff with technical and program expertise, as well as a connected and committed board of directors charged with overseeing our strategic vision. Visit http://www.goldenapple.org for more information.

Media contact:
Eileen Rochford
Ph: 312-953-3305

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Eileen Rochford
The Harbinger Group
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since: 02/2009
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