QC teachers finalists for Golden Apple Awards

Three Quad-City Area have been named finalists in the Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching.

According to a release, the Golden Apple Foundation, an Illinois nonprofit committed to preparing, honoring and supporting educators who advance educational opportunities for students, announced the 2022 finalists for the prestigious Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching. The Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching honor outstanding teachers for having lasting, positive effects on students’ lives and school communities. Teacher finalists demonstrate in their teaching and results are significant, positive impact on their students’ growth and learning. A highly-competitive award process was involved in the selection of 30 9th-12th grade teacher finalists. Three among those are from the QCA:

  • Andrew Lister, Orion High School, Orion (Grades 11-12, English)

In his English courses, Lister implements inclusive teaching elements by tasking students with studying marginalized groups throughout American history using the lens of firsthand narratives. That means examining Native American perspectives through Native American voices, as well as black perspectives on race, slavery and loudspeakers as told by Black authors and. Core reading material in Lister’s class includes the autobiographical memoir of Solomon Northup, who penned 12 Years a Slave to catalog his harrowing experience under the hand of Southern slave masters. The text helped students better understand and reflect upon historical events through the firsthand narratives of those who participated in them.

Andrew Lister, Orion High School (photo: The Golden Apple Foundation)
  • Holly Schou, United Township High School, East Moline (Grades 9 & 11, English, American Studies)

Holly Schou’s English class is anything but dull: over the past two decades, she and her students have discussed everything from the cultural impact of the Harry Potter series (in 1998) to the plausibly negative impacts of the internet (2008) to the racist implications of the Confederate flag (2016). In her own words: “Perhaps next year, students will weigh in on non-fungible tokens (NFTs).” This lighthearted yet rigorous approach to cultural phenomena that continue to shape national discourse is a hallmark of Schou’s teaching style, which is beloved by students and admired by fellow instructors.

Holly Schou, United Township High School (photo: The Golden Apple Foundation)
  • Tina Dunker, United Township High School, East Moline (Grades 9, 11 & 12, Algebra)

Dunker knows that without great instruction, many students find themselves saying that they are no longer good at math — and soon enough, it becomes a narrative that they believe for the rest of their lives. To prevent this, she innovative attempts to find new and ways to help her students understand that they can excel in math, regardless of the subject matter or unit at hand. During a particularly difficult quadratics unit, Dunker made efforts to break down a large amount of new information into multiple stages so that students could better grapple with the concepts they were presented. Additionally, by introducing new forms of peer-to-peer instruction, such as teaming up on individual problems, using personal whiteboards to demonstrate work, encouraging students to teach the class how they arrived at solutions and more, Dunker was able to help students make new connections that led to better classroom scores — and a greater sense of self-confidence.

Tina Dunker, United Township High School (photo: The Golden Apple Foundation)

“These last two years have truly taken a toll on teachers, staff, families, and students,” Alan Mather, President of Golden Apple, said. “While great teachers have always been impactful, this is particularly true during this past year, where these finalists have demonstrated the commitment to providing ongoing support and high-quality instruction to their students and we are proud to honor them.”

“Teachers – like these finalists – are in high demand across our state and country,” Alicia Winckler, CEO of Golden Apple, said. “The Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching recognizes and elevates this critical profession. With a growing teacher shortage, we need more highly effective teachers to positively impact the lives of students in all of our communities.”

The final 2022 Golden Apple Award recipients will receive a spring sabbatical, courtesy of Northwestern University generously provides each recipient receives a $5,000 cash award and will become Fellows of the Golden Apple Academy of Educators, a community of educators who play an important role in preparing the The next generation of teachers in the Golden Apple Scholars and Accelerators programs, which are dedicated to addressing the teacher shortage in Illinois.

To see all of the finalists for the 2022 Golden Apple Award for Excellence, click here.

Golden Apple’s mission is to inspire, develop and support teacher and school leader excellence, especially in schools-of-need. For more information, click here.

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