Since 1986, the Golden Apple Foundation has chosen ten Chicago area teachers to win their Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Highlands Elementary teacher Kathy Burns was a little confused when a group of people, most carrying cameras, interrupted her second grade classroom.
“I was really puzzled,” said Burns. “It wasn’t until people in suits came walking in that I thought, ‘oh my gosh could this be?’”
Over at Naper Elementary School, first grade teacher Pamela Kelly had a similar surprise.
“It took me a couple seconds, and then I saw an Apple person walk in,” said Kelly. “I didn’t know what to think, didn’t know what to say.”
The Golden Apple Foundation awards teachers in a different grade level each year. This year they received more than 600 pre k through third grade nominees.
“There are many, many great teachers in the Chicago area,” said Mark Alan Jones, Chief Development Officer for the Golden Apple Foundation. “I think more than anything else, what the Golden Apple Awards do is shine the light very brightly on the impact that a highly affective teacher has on the lives of his or her students.”
All of the kids in Mrs. Burns’ and Mrs. Kelly’s classes were excited their favorite teacher won the prestigious award.
“She’s the best teacher in the world. She helps me learn like a lot,” said Kyle Bramschreiber, a second grader in Mrs. Burns’ class.
“She’s made reading funner for me,” said Emily Villazon, a second grader in Mrs. Burns’ class.
“She inspires me a lot,” said Maggie O’Neill of Mrs. Kelly.
“She’s so nice and funny,” said Joe Hinsberger, a first grader in Mrs. Kelly’s class.
The Golden Apple Award comes with a few prizes. Teachers receive $3,000, be inducted to the Golden Apple Academy of Educators, and receive a tuition free spring quarter sabbatical to study at Northwestern University.
“I am so excited,” said Kelly. “I’m in the middle of working on my library science degree and this would be an answered prayer if I could go to school and take a couple of classes and get closer to being a librarian.”
Burns was also excited about furthering her education, but was uncertain which direction she wanted to take.
“I don’t know, some type of education classes,” said Burns. “I’ll have to look and see what they’re offering.”
While the prizes are nice, Burns and Kelly say the award isn’t about them. It’s about the profession.
“You work hard to do your job because you want the kids to succeed,” said Burns. “It’s just very rewarding to see that I can help and have an impact on so many kids.”
“It’s a privilege to be a part of their life and their growing up,” said Kelly.
All ten of this years’ Golden Apple recipients will be honored at a ceremony in October. Chicago’s WTTW will then rebroadcast the event.
Naperville has had only one other Golden Apple recipient. Naperville North High School’s Lee Marek received the award in 1998.
North’s principal Kevin Pobst received the award while teaching at Oak Park and River Forest High Schools.
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