Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching & Leadership 2018

Golden Apple 2018

Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching & Leadership

View 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 2018 Golden Apple Awards focuses on outstanding Pre-K-3rd grade teachers, and two exemplary Pre-K-12th grade school leaders, who will receive the Stanley C. Golder Leadership Award.

Students and colleagues of these passionate teachers will join the action to showcase special moments with co-hosts and former Golden Apple Fellows Carla Stone and Jennifer Eggert, offering viewers personal insight into the lives of these stellar educational leaders. The students will deliver messages of congratulations to their teachers through song, dance, pioneer demonstrations, and much more. The event will take place on Saturday, May 19 at WTTW Studios in Chicago and will be streamed via Facebook Live on Golden Apple’s Facebook page. The show will air May 31 on WTTW11 at 8 pm.

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.

33rd Annual Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching & Leadership

Saturday, May 19, 2018
WTTW Studios | Chicago, IL
1:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Watch the livestream via Facebook Live
Golden Apple's Facebook Page
2:30 pm

Stanley C. Golder Award Recipients

Gregory Jones

Gregory Jones
Principal
Kenwood Academy High School
Chicago, IL

Gregory Jones provides exceptional leadership to over 150 staff members and approximately 1800 students in grades 7-12. Despite the challenges of a school with almost 60 percent of its students at poverty level, Kenwood Academy High School has seen impressive achievements since Jones arrived in 2012. In collaboration with teachers and counselors, Jones’s team dramatically improved the graduation rates, and led a college matriculation program that resulted in a significantly larger college-going population. As a leading indicator of future graduation rates, the freshman on-track measure shows that the graduation rate will likely continue to climb in future years.


Stacy Stewart

Stacy Stewart
Principal
Belmont-Cragin Elementary School
Chicago, IL

Stacy Stewart has improved learning at Belmont-Cragin Elementary by using an approach that combines personalized learning with dual-language education and social and emotional learning. As the principal of Belmont-Cragin, a school community of 575 students in Pre-K through 8th grade, including more than 90 percent who qualify for the free and reduced meal program and 68 percent English-language learners, she tackles all challenges to ensure that staff and students can achieve. She diligently pursues a path of success for students and staff. Stewart has secured grants and partnerships, and volunteers to provide resources to students and teachers.

Golden Apple Fellows: Bios

Erica Barraza

Erica Barraza
First Grade Teacher & Instructional Coach
Lotus Elementary School
Spring Grove, IL

Erica Barraza believes that one of the most significant issues in education today is the critical need for social-emotional learning and character education. Over the past 10 years, she has seen a dramatic change in the way students interact with their peers and adults, which frequently includes physical aggression, dishonesty, and disrespect. She is passionate about teaching her students how to empathize with others, what compassion looks like, and how to understand and regulate their emotions. Her teaching often incorporates service-learning as a means to develop compassion and understanding. Barraza was a previous finalist for the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in 2011 and was named a Golden Apple Teacher of Distinction that year.


Lisa Buchholz

Lisa Buchholz
First Grade Teacher
Glen Ellyn, IL

After 27 years of teaching, Lisa Buchholz knows how to use every second of every school day to the fullest. Her favorite tool to maximize learning is the integration of multiple concepts. Often, it’s hard to tell which specific subject is being taught due to the overlapping and reinforcing of math, reading and science concepts that are utilized during her lessons. She guides her students to strive for the highest of standards and to expect more of themselves and each other every day. As a result of her achievement in the classroom, she was also previously recognized as a finalist for the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.


Meghan Dolan

Meghan Dolan
Third Grade Teacher
John M. Palmer Elementary School
Chicago, IL

Meghan Dolan believes the positive relationships she builds with her students are vital to her teaching success. Her teaching intentionally includes activities that allow her to interact with every student so that she may learn as much as possible about their progress and needs. In her classroom, Dolan emphasizes the importance of character-building, giving back to communities, kindness and problem-solving. She strives to help her students become positive role models. As a result of her achievement in the classroom, she earned accolades including a nomination for Teacher of the Year (at the district level in Iowa) and Gold Star Teacher of the Year, and she’s been the recipient of three grants.


Heather Duncan Whitt

Heather Duncan Whitt
Pre-K Teacher
South Shore Fine Arts Academy
Chicago, IL

Heather Duncan Whitt believes it is critical to expose students to the world beyond their daily experience through art, theater, music, and books. She is keenly aware that research has demonstrated that children with an understanding of other cultures fare better in school and life than those who only know their own stories. Whitt earned National Board Certification and currently is working on her Ph.D. Other educational organizations also recognized her with accolades, including the America Achieves National Fellowship For Teachers And Principals Cohort 3, the Danielson Framework for Teaching Early Childhood adaptation team, and the Chicago Foundation For Education Action Research Leadership Institute (ARLI).


Jeri Faber

Jeri Faber
Second Grade Teacher
Ringwood School Primary Center
Ringwood, IL

Jeri Faber knows every student has a unique gift and she takes great joy in helping them discover their strengths and talents. She fosters a collaborative, exciting, supportive learning environment in which she helps her students hone their skills and self-confidence. Her goal is to help students make engagement in school a personal priority. It’s imperative to Faber that she gets to know every student on a personal level. Every day, she works to show her students how they can grow and develop into the best people they can be. As a result of her achievement in the classroom, she also was recognized with the district’s Lighthouse Award.


Gwen Faulkner

Gwen Faulkner
Second Grade Teacher
McKenzie Elementary School
Wilmette, IL

Gwen Faulkner’s classroom is engineered to be a student-centered, flexible learning environment. Student empowerment is core to Gwen’s teaching. This year, through a partnership with Together We Rise, she helped her students tackle concerns they had shared about the lack of personal integrity, kindness, and diversity in the discourse surrounding the recent presidential election. The service-learning project led by her students helped raise funds to purchase suitcases for children in foster care. Faulkner says the lifeblood of her classroom is love and laughter. As a result of her achievement in the classroom, she was recognized with a teacher tribute from The Alliance for Early Childhood Education, Beyond Pencils, and Gluesticks Grants.


Carrie Garrett

Carrie Garrett
General Education Inclusion Teacher
Lynne Thigpen Elementary School
Joliet, IL

Carrie Garrett’s teaching starts with leading her students to find and understand their own identity through discussions about their family rules, rituals and traditions, and an examination of differing cultures and ethnicities. By introducing varying experiences, her students begin to understand cultural diversity. Garrett believes that success today requires the ability to communicate and collaborate effectively with people from many different backgrounds and experiences. Carrie fosters those critical skills through interactive activities that her students often direct. She spends many afternoons and evenings attending her students' activities and sporting events. As a result of her achievement in the classroom, she also was recognized with the District Star Award.


Kristin Mitchell

Kristin Mitchell
Kindergarten Teacher
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Literary and Fine Arts School
Evanston, IL

Recently Kristin Mitchell’s work has focused on implementing new ways to help close the achievement gap in her school as early as possible. Adapting to new teaching methods has been intense and difficult for her at times, but evidence of success shared by teachers in the district who piloted the program has given her the motivation to push forward and try harder. Mitchell is passionate about helping families of all backgrounds to feel welcomed and included in the school community. She believes an engaged community that includes family involvement is essential for students to succeed. Parents of her students and fellow school educators say she fosters a positive, calm environment where children love to learn every day.


Daneal Silvers

Daneal Silvers
Kindergarten Teacher
Edison Regional Gifted Center
Chicago, IL

Daneal Silvers believes families are a child’s first teacher. Before the start of every school year, she asks families to complete a brief survey she created to learn about each student’s home life, interests, strengths, and needs. From the survey responses, she establishes monthly thematic units that connect to her students’ interests and backgrounds. The unit themes and corresponding big ideas also drive classroom activities and instruction. Students who attend Edison Regional Gifted Center are gifted learners, and she tailors instruction to individual levels of academic readiness. As a result of her achievement in the classroom, she was previously recognized as a Chicago Bulls Teacher of the Month.


Anita Unzueta

Anita Unzueta
Second Grade Bilingual Teacher
Little Village Academy
Chicago, IL

Teaching in a neighborhood in which most students face significant challenges due to gang violence, poverty and crime, Anita Unzueta feels it is her responsibility to walk into school each morning with a positive attitude and open mind to help every one of her students. She believes in the power of setting high expectations and big goals, and holds her students accountable for working hard every day. Having come from a similar background of growing up in a gang-infested neighborhood while attending a public school, Anita understands the importance of providing a safe and secure school environment for her students. She is a tireless advocate for her students’ success. Anita is also a graduate of the Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois Program.

Award Emcees: Bios

Brandis Friedman

Brandis Friedman

Brandis Friedman is a Correspondent for Chicago Tonight, on Chicago’s PBS affiliate, WTTW Channel 11. Her reporting on education and criminal justice issues has appeared on PBS’ NewsHour and NPR’s The Takeaway. 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. In addition to earning three regional Emmy Awards for her work in DC, she’s earned a Peter Lisagor Award, recognizing excellence in journalism, from the Chicago Headline Club. 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 as a Vice President 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 lives in Evanston with her husband and son.


Carla Stone

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.


Jennifer Eggert

Jennifer Eggert

Jennifer Eggert is a 2017 Golden Apple Fellow and is currently the Instructional Technology Coach at DuJardin Elementary School in Bloomingdale, Illinois. She works with teachers and students to create innovative and unique 21st Century learning experiences. She draws upon her classroom teaching background and her Master's Degree in New Learning and Design to help students and teachers find success and a love for learning. Recently, she began the next chapter of her journey in Educational Administration and Leadership, and continues to design instructional content for different EdTech companies around the country. Her passion, creativity, and "outside of the box" way of thinking drive her teaching, learning, and way of life. When not in a formal school setting, you can find her in the dance studio, teaching or taking dance classes, or strolling outside with her husband Ross. Before she wanted to become a teacher, she had dreams of acting on Broadway, and is therefore super excited to be co-hosting WTTW's annual awards show this year!

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