CHICAGO, May 13, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Golden Apple, the leading Illinois nonprofit committed to preparing, honoring and supporting exemplary educators who advance educational opportunities for students, today surprised Mary Kovats, a fifth-grade teacher at Carl Von Linne Elementary School in Chicago, with the prestigious Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching. For the first time in Golden Apple's history, the awardees are being notified differently than in the full-school environment, and Kovats was surprised during a virtual assembly with her students.
Following a highly competitive process, the 2020 award recipients were selected from more than 730 nominations of 4th-8th grade teachers. The demand for recognition throughout the state was profound, with nominations for outstanding teachers and leaders received from 64 Illinois counties.
"Exemplary teachers create an extraordinary ripple effect that benefits students, transforms schools and strengthens communities," said Golden Apple President Alan Mather. "In a time where so much is being asked of educators, we take great pride in shining a light on educators like Mary Kovats."
The Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching honors outstanding teachers for their roles in having lasting, positive effects on students' lives and building stronger communities. Teacher award recipients demonstrate -- in their teaching and results -- significant, positive impact on their students' growth and learning. Fellow educators, students, parents and community members nominate teachers for the awards. Teachers may not self-nominate.
"We recognize the recipients of the Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching to thank them for their countless contributions, to elevate the importance of the teaching profession for all to see and to inspire others to positively impact their communities by pursuing careers in education," said Alicia Winckler, CEO of Golden Apple.
Award recipients are selected by master educators who understand and recognize instructional best practices and who utilize professional standards to evaluate exemplary teachers and school leaders. Members of the selection committee viewed video evidence of instruction and observed finalists' teaching in-person in their classrooms during a comprehensive day which also included interviews with finalists' colleagues, school leaders, students, parents and community members prior to school building closures in Illinois.
About Mary Kovats Kovats, a fifth-grade reading, writing and social studies teacher, empowers her students to become independent thinkers by exposing them to rich, thought-provoking text. She creates a classroom with interesting materials that build students' knowledge and interest in the world around them, hand-picking books based on what students need, including those that teach them about being good citizens and stories with main characters who strive to make a difference. She also designs service-learning projects around topics students have read about and connect with. After reading a Scholastic Magazine article about plastic in the ocean, her students became more aware of the environmental impact of plastic waste and the absence of a recycling program at their school. With the help of another teacher, the students were propelled to create a service project to develop a recycling program for the school. As one parent said, "She is more than an educator, she puts in extra effort to make sure students understand on a different level."
As a highly valued component of this recognition, Northwestern University, Golden Apple's partner for more than 30 years, generously provides a Spring Sabbatical to award recipients at no cost.
"Both Northwestern and Golden Apple are dedicated to developing teachers who will transform the lives of their students and we are proud to host these master teachers on the next step in their professional journeys in education," said Timothy Dohrer, Ph.D., Director of the Master of Science in Education Program at Northwestern University's School of Education & Social Policy.
In addition, each Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching recipient receives a $5,000 cash award. Award recipients become Fellows of the Golden Apple Academy of Educators, a community of educators who support current and future teachers and deepen the learning of students. Fellows play an important role in preparing the next generation of teachers by providing instruction and mentorship to future teachers in the Golden Apple Scholars and Accelerators programs, each of which is dedicated to addressing the teacher shortage in Illinois.
The nomination period for the 2021 Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching & Leadership is open. All are invited to nominate exceptional Pre-K-third grade Illinois teachers and Pre-K-12th grade school leaders at www.goldenapple.org/awards.
Golden Apple's social media channels will feature surprises for each of the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching & Leadership recipients. Follow the news here: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn. All press materials for the surprise notifications can be found at www.goldenapple.org/awards.
About Golden Apple Golden Apple's mission is to inspire, develop and support teacher and school leader excellence in Illinois, especially in schools-of-need. Our leading-edge preparation delivers exceptional teachers who make an impact. We help students thrive in the classroom and in life. Since our beginning, we have recognized master educators annually; and, these master educators help prepare the next generation of teachers. Our vision is an Illinois in which every classroom has a great teacher and to realize this, we are committed to making a material difference in resolving the teacher shortage throughout Illinois. Visit http://www.goldenapple.org for more information.