Golden Apple Awards 2017

Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching & Leadership 2017

Airs Thursday, June 1 at 8:00 pm on WTTW HD. See the complete broadcast schedule.

The Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching & Leadership honors 10 of the most dedicated, engaged, and effective teachers, and one exemplary principal, in the Chicagoland area. Hosted by WTTW’s Brandis Friedman, the 2017 Golden Apple Awards focuses on outstanding middle school teachers, and one principal who will receive the Stanley C. Golder Leadership Award.

Students of these passionate teachers will join the action to showcase special moments with co-host and 2011 Golden Apple Fellow Carla Stone, offering viewers personal insight into the lives of these stellar educational leaders. The students will deliver messages of congratulations to their teachers through a hula dance, a Mandarin lesson, an art project, an original rap, and much more.

The event will be streamed on Saturday, May 20 via Facebook Live on Golden Apple’s Facebook page.

Golden Apple Fellows were chosen from among hundreds of teachers nominated by colleagues and students. The final selection was made by a panel of education experts chosen by the Golden Apple Foundation.

Stanley C. Golder Award Recipient

Phyllis Cavallone-Jurek
St. Therese Chinese Catholic School
Chicago, IL

Cavallone-Jurek is deeply involved in every aspect of the school, from shoveling snow, to serving lunch, to teaching classes herself. She is the heart and soul of St. Therese Chinese Catholic School. Parents, teachers, and students seek her sage counsel and comforting guidance. She communicates a clear vision to the school community and leads by example. In 2004, when Cavallone-Jurek began as principal, St. Therese Chinese Catholic School was on the verge of closure due to underperformance and declining enrollment. Today, the school is at full enrollment with a long waiting list, and is much admired by other schools within the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Mr. Dana Butler

Golden Apple Fellows: Bios

Scott Baeseman
Music, Chorus
Lake Forest Country Day School
Lake Forest, IL

Each day, Baeseman ends his music classes by encouraging his students to “go out and make a positive difference in the world,” a sentiment he models through his teaching and leadership. He is known for getting to know his students as people and for his commitment to coaching every student to achieve greatness. A professional composer, he is currently collaborating with a 7th grade student to write music inspired by the student’s poetry.

Mr. Jason Crean

Andrea Beaty
ELA, Science, Social Studies, Math, Social Emotional
Serena Hills Elementary School
Chicago Heights, IL

Beaty’s 4th grade class starts each day with a warm-up song that she leads while standing atop her desk, followed by a Peace Circle during which students share feelings and discuss the “mountains” they are working to overcome. On the walls are photos and goal statements of each student and written atop their desks are personal “power words” to remind them they are empowered to conquer personal challenges. She fosters a community of learners who value each other as OHANA (family) and who believe that no one should be left behind or forgotten.

Mrs. Laila El-Amin

Fitzgerald Crame
Language Arts, Math, Science, STEM, Arts, Electives
Thomas Edison Regional Gifted Center
Chicago, IL

Each school day in classroom 217 is an adventure, and Crame’s 4th grade students are the characters in the stories they are writing. Through collaboration and teamwork, his students learn that together they can solve anything. Each lesson includes an individual performance rubric which students use to evaluate how they are responding to the assignment and what they need to change in order to make improvements.

Mr. Jeff Grant

Christina Daskalopoulos
Nelson School, East Maine District 63
Niles, IL

Creating art is an act of exploration and each piece becomes a part of who you are, according to Daskalopoulos. She teaches her students how to think differently and acts as a guide on their creative journey. In her classroom, art does not control, it inspires. She is a mentor to her students and remains in contact with them long after they have graduated. Her students describe her as dedicated and kind, citing her habit of conducting lunchtime art to give them additional time to finish projects because, in her words, "Art isn’t something you rush; you must take your time with it."

Mr. Danny Gray

Jennifer Eggert
Instructional Technology
DuJardin Elementary School
Bloomingdale, IL

As an instructional technology coach, Eggert is responsible for teaching her students how to be responsible digital citizens. She is known for giving students a voice in unique ways and for delivering critical life lessons for succeeding in today’s technology-driven world. She fills her classes with energy and enthusiasm while creating connections to the world at large for her students through technology. She created Tech Night for students to demonstrate their new skills to their parents and created the school’s Tech Club.

Mr. Dennis Kass

Sarah Faller
Literacy, Social Science
Jonathan Burr Elementary School
Chicago, IL

Faller is a reading specialist and social sciences teacher who treats her students with respect, empathy, and attention. She is known for getting to know every student in the school building. Literature selections in Faller’s classes emphasize kindness and compassion. She integrates educational messages with caring experiences that mirror topics in the books her classes are reading, and often encourages her students to participate in school-sponsored community activities, such as food and clothing drives.

Mr. Todd Katz

Michelle Kedzierski
Reading, Literature, Language Arts
Orland Junior High
Orland Park, IL

As a teacher in a culturally diverse school district, Kedzierski uses literature as an entrée into exploring critical social issues, such as bullying. She believes ardently in the potential literature holds to open minds and inspire positive choices and behaviors. At a time when participation in hateful practices is conducted online anonymously, and often, she believes it is essential for middle school students to explore the potential consequences of their choices. Characters in stories provide the perfect forum for gaining such understanding.

Mr. Leo Park

Karen Ramirez
Reading, Writing, Social Studies
Richard J. Daley Academy
Chicago, IL

Ramirez is intensely devoted to her students and to education. Her demeanor is remarkably gentle and humble, yet her commitment to her students’ progress is ferocious. Students, parents, and colleagues all note her zeal for improving the learning experiences of those she teaches. Her students say she makes them feel exceptional, like they can do anything. In Ramirez’s classroom, students’ ownership of their learning is apparent. Ramirez is also a Class of 2002 Golden Apple Scholar.

Ms. Sherri Rukes

Alison Ridgway
Skinner North Classical Elementary
Chicago, IL

In addition to leading four advanced math classes per day at the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade levels, Ridgway also serves as the lead for her school’s Math Professional Learning Community and is a member of the instructional leadership team. Ridgway coaches sports teams, leads math competition teams, and is the 8th grade class sponsor. Her students describe her as empathetic, motivating, and an amazing person.

Mr. Pankaj Sharma

Cara Spitzner
Reading, Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies
Ogden Avenue School
La Grange, IL

Spitzner has been at her school for 14 years and now teaches 4th grade. She emphasizes cultural diversity in all of her lessons to develop understanding of the world outside the community in which her students live. She uses real-world experiences in her teaching whenever possible. While teaching a unit on agriculture recently, she organized a field trip to the local farmers market, and invited a local farmer to visit her classroom to talk about farming. Her classroom environment is warm and encouraging.

Mrs. Debra Thomas

Award Emcees: Bios

Brandis Friedman

Brandis Friedman is a Correspondent for Chicago Tonight, on Chicago’s PBS affiliate, WTTW Channel 11. Her work on education and criminal justice issues has appeared on PBS’ NewsHour. Before joining Chicago Tonight, Brandis worked as a reporter and anchor for WBBM Newsradio 780, and as a producer/reporter for WJLA-TV/ABC-7 in Washington, DC where she earned three regional Emmy Awards. Originally from Mississippi, her work has taken her to numerous cities including Kansas City, Missouri, Little Rock, Arkansas and Wichita Falls, Texas. She currently serves on the board of the Chicago Headline Club, which is the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and is a member of the Education Writers Association. Brandis is a graduate of Dillard University in New Orleans, where she earned a degree in Mass Communications, and Columbia University in New York City, where she earned her Master’s Degree in Journalism. Brandis is now happy to call Chicago her home. She lives in Evanston with her husband, Jason, their son, Blake, and their Boston Terrier, Rocky.

Brandis Friedman

Carla Stone

Carla Stone is an active member of the National Science Teachers Association and enjoys teaching 6th grade Science and Social Studies at Martin Luther King Literary and Fine Arts in Evanston, Illinois. She has recently completed her 17th year of teaching and her final year of National Board Certification. Part of Carla’s mission is to help improve mindfulness training for teachers and students in partnership with the NFP/SEL Calm Classroom program and improve STEM education for all District 65 students and teachers through the D65 project, EvanSTEM, funded by the Noyce Foundation.

In 2011, Ms. Stone won the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching. As a Fellow, she has participated in many aspects of the Foundation including co-hosting the annual awards show on WTTW, participating in the awards selection, being a member of the Golden Apple Academy of Educators, and working alongside the Science team at the Museum of Science and Industry’s STEM Summer Institute. Her interests are supporting her school’s PBIS (Positive, Behavior, Intervention & Supports) team through her student council initiatives, mindfulness training, yoga, computer science, STEM, SCRUM project management methodology, alternative medicine, and coaching the Chicago Storm to their fourth appearance at the Senior Olympics in Birmingham, Alabama this June. Outside of work you will find her cycling, exercising outdoors, playing basketball, supporting DePaul Women’s Basketball and other Alumni Events, going to concerts, and writing.

Carla Stone