Golden Apple Award Chicagoland Finalists Announced

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32nd Anniversary of the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching

Golden Apple, a leading nonprofit committed to celebrating and developing great teachers who make life-changing differences in the lives of students, proudly announces the 34 finalists for the 2017 Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching. The awards recognize and honor outstanding teachers for their role in building a stronger, better-educated society. This year’s finalists were selected from a pool of more than 600 nominations, and represent 4th-8th grade teachers throughout the Chicagoland area.

The 2017 Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching finalists are:

1. Cindy Adler, Chute Middle School, Evanston
2. Jessica Aranda, Joseph E. Gary Elementary School, Chicago
3. Scott Baeseman, Lake Forest Country Day School, Lake Forest
4. Andrea Beaty, Serena Hills Elementary School, Chicago Heights
5. Michelle Brezek, Heritage Middle School, Berwyn
6. Rick Coppola, South Loop Elementary School, Chicago
7. Fitzgerald Crame, Thomas Edison Regional Gifted Center, Chicago
8. Ann Cvitkovic, Lake Bluff Middle School, Lake Bluff
9. Christina Daskalopoulos, Viola H. Nelson Elementary School, Niles
10. Maureen DeVoss, Lotus Elementary School, Spring Grove
11. Shannon Dickinson, Chute Middle School, Evanston
12. David Downing, Northbrook Junior High School, Northbrook
13. Jennifer Eggert, DuJardin Elementary School, Bloomingdale
14. Sarah Faller, Jonathan Burr Elementary School, Chicago
15. Dimitra Georganas, Pleasantdale Middle School, Burr Ridge
16. Deborah Glowacki, John Palmer Elementary School, Chicago
17. Lynn Gorey, Maercker Elementary School, Westmont
18. Joseph Gray Jr., Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Elementary School, Oak Park
19. Desiree Guerrero, Conrad Fischer Elementary, Elmhurst
20. Brigette Hurst, Grove Avenue School, Barrington
21. Elizabeth Jiménez-Bure, Sunny Hill Elementary School, Carpentersville
22. Michelle Kedzierski, Orland Junior High, Orland Park
23. Kelli Kielusiak, St. Therese Chinese Catholic School, Chicago
24. Jacqueline Lauriat, Wheaton Christian Grammar School, Winfield
25. James O'Malley, Thomas A. Edison Elementary, Morton Grove
26. Sharon Ponder, Carter G. Woodson Elementary, Chicago
27. Hala Qato, Aqsa School, Bridgeview
28. Karen Ramirez, Richard J. Daley Academy, Chicago
29. Shawn Reddy, Philip Murray Elementary Language Academy, Chicago
30. Alison Ridgway, Skinner North Classical Elementary, Chicago
31. Berenice Salas, Academy for Global Citizenship, Chicago
32. Cara Spitzner, Ogden Avenue School, La Grange
33. Tyra Stall, Prince of Peace Catholic School, Lake Villa
34. Jane Szybowicz, Fox River Grove Middle School, Fox River Grove

A Celebration of Excellence in honor of the finalists will be held on Saturday, March 4th at the Hilton Rosemont Chicago O’Hare. Event details and tickets are available at

These finalists will experience a final round of review and classroom observations prior to the selection and announcement this spring of the 10 teacher award recipients. Golden Apple’s selection committee is comprised of college and university professors, educational consultants, administrators and former Golden Apple Award recipients. Committee members utilize industry and research-based professional standards to identify teachers who exemplify the best of the teaching profession.

"Golden Apple has championed for decades the belief that superior teaching quality directly improves every child’s educational experience,” said Dominic Belmonte, Chief Executive Officer of Golden Apple. “These finalists are shining examples of the transformative power excellence in teaching plays in improving students’ lives. We are proud to continue our tradition of honoring teaching excellence and congratulate these candidates on their selection as finalists for the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching.”

We thank Northwestern University for providing 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. Perhaps most importantly, 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.

Great leaders transform school communities and bring invaluable support to teachers. Therefore, Golden Apple also announced today 10 finalists for the Stanley C. Golder Leadership Award, which honors the exemplary performance and excellence in school leadership of a principal or head of school from the Chicagoland area. Learn more at:

About Golden Apple
2017 marks Golden Apple’s 32nd year of innovating teacher preparation and leadership to transform both the careers of teachers as well as the lives of students in Illinois. Many of our Golden Apple Award recipients give back by participating as instructors, academic coaches, and mentors in both our aspiring teachers program (i.e., “The Golden Apple Scholars”) and our professional development program (i.e., “The Golden Apple STEM Institute”).

Because the critical contributor to student achievement is the quality of the teacher in the classroom, Golden Apple provides exceptional teacher preparation for teachers at all stages of their careers. Our focus is on advancing educational excellence for Illinois’ most under-served students. 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. We enhance their college education with exemplary advanced teacher preparation, superior resources and lifelong support, and, they, in turn, stay in teaching at a school-of-need in Illinois for five or more years. Over 600 Scholars are currently preparing to become teachers in schools-of-need throughout Illinois.

Golden Apple is comprised 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 for more information.

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Eileen Rochford
The Harbinger Group
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