Golden Apple awards narrowed down

Golden Apple awards narrowed down

By Shellie Berg

By Shellie Berg

Staff Reporter

On Dec. 7, 30 teachers learned they are semi-finalists in the Golden Apple Recognition program for 2000-2001.

At the end of January, the semi-finalists will be narrowed down to 15 teachers, who will each be observed twice from Feb. 14 to Feb. 28. The five recipients will be surprised in their classes on March 13. The banquet honoring them will occur on March 29 at Cliffbreaker’s.

“We don’t use the word, ‘winner.’ We use the word ‘recipients,’” said Ellena Linksy, executive director of the Golden Apple Foundation of Rockford. “The whole idea behind the Golden Apple Award was to recognize teaching in the Rockford system. Students, former students, parents, colleagues nominate teachers.

“I have a substantial number of people nominated. They have to be full-time teachers of the Rockford district and have five full years of experience.”

This year, 500 people were nominated. Linsky said that after the teachers are nominated, they can decide whether to proceed with the application process. The process entails the educators providing letters of recommendation and creating an essay. The essay signifies their attempts at enhancing their education and why they feel teaching is significant to them.

“We like to see that they have been pursuing their education in a way that is directly related to classroom activity,” Linsky stated.

The Selection Committee examines the material and selects the 30 individuals. Then, observers, who consist of a diverse group of people such as community members and those in the education and business fields, watch the teachers in action twice in February. Afterward, they conduct a standard examination. Linksy said they are observed “ideally in morning class and ideally in afternoon class.”

Scores of teachers are put together and are narrowed to 15 people. Then, a personal interview occurs. After the long, rigorous process of trying to pick the teachers, five are chosen.

Terry Ingrassia, president of the foundation, thinks the Golden Apple Award provides an incentive for teachers to spice up their teaching. “Excellence in education is really the key behind all this. It’s so exciting to see the wonderful teaching going on,” Ingrassia said. “One of the goals of the Golden Apple is honoring excellence in teaching and also increasing community involvement. And yes, I would say it’s exciting to see.”

In addition, the last 15 people are considered “Teachers of Distinction.” So far, that category consists of 80 educators. The award program is in its fifth year.

Those teachers get involved in such activities as helping with the Sara Ingrassia Dictionary Fund. The fund allows all third-graders in the district to receive a free dictionary from funds acquired through donations.

“Sara was an outstanding teacher in the school district,” said Ingrassia, who was a relative of hers. “In honor of her when she died, a group of her friends and colleagues set up a memorial to her.”

Even those who aren’t recipients or aren’t nominated get some perks. In the fall one day, the volunteer observers hand out a tasty apple to all teachers in the district. “Volunteers go to classrooms and take an apple,” Ingrassia noted. “This is really exciting for the children to see.”

The 30 finalists:

Vic Barr, East High School

Timothy Braun, Flinn Middle School

Sandy Brooks, Lewis Lemon Global Studies

Sandra Coad, West View

Elaine Ferguson, Page Park School

Martha Files, Froberg

Diane Fischer, RESA

Yeuk-Wah Fong, RESA

Carol Freer, East High School

Fredrick Kunz, Eisenhower Middle School

Deena Jo Lantz, East High School

Karin Lee, Rolling Green

Christine May, Bloom School

Ben Mena, East High School

Judy Moe, Dennis/Kishwaukee

Kim Nelson, Froberg

Sylvie Ngyuen, Guilford High School

Angela Perez, Spring Creek

Julia Peterson, Fairview

Dan Swanson, Jefferson High School

Karen Van Howe, Auburn High School

Linda Vander Weit, Spring Creek

Charles Wallin, East High School

Ronald Weckerly, Eisenhower Middle School

Carol Wehmeyer, Flinn Middle School

Doug Weyburg, Kishwaukee

Catherine Zannis, Flinn Middle School

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