Golden Apple Award

  • About Golden Apple

    Golden Apple has recognized outstanding Chicago-area educators annually since 1986. The creation of Golden Apple founders Mike and Pat Koldyke, the Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching recognize and honor outstanding teachers for their contributions to building a stronger, better-educated citizenry.

    Each Golden Apple Award recipient receives a tuition-free, spring quarter sabbatical to study at Northwestern University. Each recipient also receives a $5,000 cash award. Perhaps most importantly, Golden Apple teachers become Fellows of the Golden Apple Academy of Educators, providing a stronger voice and a larger stage from which to make an impact, through ongoing professional development and engagement in education reform, such as the mentoring of future teachers through the Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois program.

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

    “Golden Apple is committed to continuing to advance the preparation, mentoring and development of exceptional teachers. We all know the impact a well-prepared teacher can have — not only in one classroom — but for future generations of students as well,” said Belmonte. “Research shows a high-performing teacher can boost lifetime earnings of a classroom of 20 students by more than $400,000. That’s a $2 million aggregate lifetime earnings increase from just five years of dedicated and quality teaching.”

    Golden Apple Academy members have directly helped more than 5,000 Illinois teachers to become more effective in the classroom and indirectly helped tens of thousands of others. Additionally, half a million Illinois children have been positively impacted by the Golden Apple Scholars who have become teachers in Illinois since 1993 through advanced teacher preparation and mentoring by Academy members. The more than 270 (ten from Central Illinois) currently active Academy members have greater than 2,000 collective years of teaching experience.

    Celebrating its 27th anniversary, Golden Apple began with founders Mike and Pat Koldyke and a shared inspiration — to offer outstanding teachers a level of recognition and engagement in the larger work of education reform. Golden Apple’s successful track record of integrated, innovative programs and resources enhance the quality, resiliency, and creativity of classroom teachers and improve teaching and learning throughout Illinois. Qualified, passionate educators — including Golden Apple Award-recipients and finalists — lead a small staff of dedicated employees with functional and program expertise. A connected and committed board of directors oversees Golden Apple’s strategic direction. Together with a larger community of expert educators, this nonprofit organization works to transform teachers and teaching. 

    District 15 Golden Apple Winners

    • Robert Taylor (2012)
    • David Sobel (2009)
    • Kristie Charles (2006)
    • Barbara Marie Figlewicz (1999)
    • Jacquie McGrew (1999)
    • Elizabeth Blazejak (1999)
    • Jessie Kalinowski (1997)
    • Susan Moody Maciag (1997)

    Release date: March 10, 2021

    Martin Da Costa Mr. Martín Da Costa, Principal of Winston Campus Junior High School (WCJH), was named one of 9 finalists for the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Leadership. 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.

    An enthusiastic group of WCJH staff attended to support Mr. Da Costa and show their Warrior Pride! We are so excited for Mr. Da Costa and we know that whether or not he is chosen as the final winner, we are so very lucky to have him as a member of the District 15 community.

    Release date: March 18, 2015

    Joanna Angelopoulos, an art teacher at Gray M. Sanborn School, and Andre Zielinski, an art teacher at Stuart R. Paddock School, have both named among the 30 finalists for the Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching.

    Mrs. Angelopoulos and Mr. Zielinski were chosen for the Golden Apple Foundation’s prestigious award from a pool of more than 600 nominations of Pre-K to third-grade teachers from throughout Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. They will be honored during the Foundation’s annual Golden Apple Celebration of Excellence in Teaching and Leadership, which will be held Saturday, April 11, at the Chicago O’Hare Marriott.

    In May, the Foundation will select 10 Golden Apple Award winners (known as Golden Apple Fellows) from among the finalists.

    Joanna AngelopoulosJoanna Angelopoulos

    Mrs. Angelopoulos has taught in District 15 since 2000. She became a National Board Certified Teacher in 2006, and renewed her certification in Early and Middle Childhood Arts earlier this year. She holds bachelor’s degrees in fine arts and art history from the University of Iowa, and a master’s degree in painting from New York University.

    “This recognition from Golden Apple makes me realize the importance of what I do every day for my students, school, and community, and that what happens in the art room matters,” said Mrs. Angelopoulos. “I strive every day to engage my students, not only to make art, but to know why it is important in developing culturally minded citizens. I share this honor with my colleagues who know that creativity, innovation, and a little bit of magic can go a long way.”

    Andre Zielinski

    Mr. Zielinski has taught in District 15 since 1993. He became a National Board Cetified Teacher in 2003, and renewed his certification in Early and Middle Childhood Art last year. He holds a bachelor’s degree in art from Mundelein College and a master’s degree in teaching elementary education from National College.

    “This is a great honor to be nominated for such an award,” said Mr. Zielinski. “Paddock is a wonderful school where the teachers, administrators, students, and parents are extremely supportive of the arts as a whole. Every day is a new creative adventure with the kids, both in the classroom and on the stage. I love facilitating and supporting each child’s unique artistic vision. Their excitement and individual creativity is truly inspiring. I am grateful to be in a District that understands the importance of the fine arts in educating the whole child by fully supporting it.”

    André ZielinskiD15’s Golden Apple Fellows

    Eight District 15 teachers have won the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching. Past winners include:

    • Robert Taylor from Central Road School (2012), 
    • David Sobel from Hunting Ridge School (2009),
    • Kristie Charles from Hunting Ridge School (2006), 
    • Barbara Marie Figlewicz from Gray M. Sanborn School (1999),
    • Jacquie McGrew from Winston Campus Elementary (1999), 
    • Jessie Kalinowski from Lincoln School (1997), and
    • Susan Moody Maciag from Stuart R. Paddock School (1997).
    • Additionally, Elizabeth Blazejak of Walter R. Sundling Junior High won the award (1999) while teaching at Chicago Public Schools’ Pulaski Community Academy.