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. The Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Leadership recipient receives a cash award of $10,000, with $5,000 for the school leader and $5,000 to the school for a project of the recipient’s choosing. Perhaps most importantly, Award recipients also become Fellows of the Golden Apple Academy of Educators, a community of educators who play an important role in preparing the next generation of teachers in the Golden Apple Scholars and Accelerators programs - which are dedicated to addressing the teacher shortage in Illinois.
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.
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 is now partnering with Golden Apple to focus on recruiting quality educators for hard-to-fill positions, specifically special education and bilingual education. We are looking forward to a productive and enriching partnership.
Fellows of the Golden Apple Academy of Educators
- Martín Da Costa, principal at Winston Campus Junior High School (2021 Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Leadership)
- Todd Katz, teacher at Winston Campus Junior High (2016 Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching)
- Robert Taylor, teacher at Central Road School (2012 Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching)
- David Sobel, teacher at Hunting Ridge School (2009 Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching)
- Kristie Charles, NBCT, teacher at Hunting Ridge School (2006 Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching)
- Barbara Marie Figlewicz, teacher at Gray M. Sanborn School (1999 Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching)
- Jacquie McGrew teacher at Winston Campus Elementary (1999 Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching)
- Jessie Kalinowski, NBCT, teacher at Lincoln School (1997 Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching)
- Susan Moody Maciag, teacher at Stuart R. Paddock School (1997 Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching)
- Elizabeth Blazejak, a teacher at Walter R. Sundling Junior High, won the award (1999 Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching) while teaching at Chicago Public Schools’ Pulaski Community Academy.
Past Finalists for the Golden Apple Awards for Excellence
- Joanna Angelopoulos, NBCT, was named a finalist for the 2015 Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching
- Andre Zielinski, NBCT, was named a finalist for the 2015 Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching