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Golden Apple Award Recipients Surprised Throughout Chicagoland

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SOURCE Golden Apple

CHICAGO, May 8, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Golden Apple, a leader in advancing the teaching profession in Illinois for 29 years, proudly announced today the recipients of the 2014 Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching.  The 2014 honorees, selected from a pool of 620 nominations and 272 applicants, represent 4th – 8th grade teachers throughout the Chicago metropolitan area. 

Additional information and photos of award recipients can be found on social media:

Award Recipients surprised on May 8 include:

  • Melissa Talaber Matwyshyn, St. Nicholas Cathedral School, Chicago, IL
  • Margot Van Dyke, O'Neill Middle School, Downers Grove, IL
  • Anand Sukumaran, Mary Gage Peterson Elementary School, Chicago, IL

President and CEO of Golden Apple, Dominic Belmonte praised this year's award recipients, "These amazing teachers demonstrate the skill, enthusiasm and passion needed to inspire their students to achieve greatness.  Each is a shining example of excellence in education and we are proud to honor them for all they do as teachers."

Golden Apple has recognized outstanding Chicago-area educators annually since 1986. The creation of Golden Apple founders Mike and Pat Koldyke, the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching recognizes and honors outstanding teachers for their contributions to building a stronger, better-educated citizenry. Golden Apple's mission is to inspire, develop and support teacher excellence in Illinois.  Golden Apple award recipients play a critical role in furthering the programs of Golden Apple, particularly as members of the faculty who help prepare the Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois to be future teachers within schools of need.

Research shows a high-performing teacher can boost lifetime earnings of a classroom of 20 students by more than $400,000. That's a $2 million aggregate lifetime earnings increase from just five years of dedicated and quality teaching.

"We all know the impact a well-prepared teacher can have - not only in one classroom - but for future generations of students," said Belmonte.  "Great teachers such as those we honor this week are priceless." 

Each Golden Apple Award recipient receives a tuition-free, spring quarter sabbatical to study at Northwestern University.  Each recipient also receives a $3,000 cash award.  Perhaps most importantly, Award recipients become Fellows of the Golden Apple Academy of Educators, giving them a stronger voice and a larger stage from which to make a difference in education within Illinois and nationally.

Fellows participate as instructors in ongoing professional development programs provided by Golden Apple, as well as provide instruction and mentoring of future teachers through the Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois program, which has prepared more than 1,500 college students to teach in schools of need in Illinois.

The recipients of the 2014 Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching will be honored at a black-tie gala on October 24th at WTTW/Channel 11 Studios in Chicago. WTTW will broadcast the awards in a one-hour television program following the event.

Nominations for the 2015 Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching will open on May 12th on the Golden Apple website, www.goldenapple.org.  The nominations can be made by anyone; however, teachers may not nominate themselves.  Teachers who are eligible for nomination must be full-time classroom teachers at public or non-public schools within Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry or Will counties, and committed to continue teaching in Illinois for two subsequent years after the sabbatical.  The Golden Apple Awards concentrate on specific grade levels each year: Pre-K- 3, 4-8 and 9-12.  In 2014, the focus was on 4-8 grade teachers.  For 2015, Pre-K – 3rd grade teachers will be honored.

Distinguished retired teachers, college/university professors, administrators, and former Golden Apple Award recipients serve on Golden Apple's selection committee. Committee members apply research-based professional standards to identify teachers who exemplify the highest standards and practices of the teaching profession.  The selection process includes classroom observations of all Award finalists and interviews with colleagues, administrators, students, and parents.  

Golden Apple Academy members have directly helped more than 5,000 Illinois teachers to become more effective in the classroom and indirectly helped tens of thousands of others. Additionally, more than 665,000 Illinois children have been positively impacted by Golden Apple Scholars who have become teachers in Illinois since 1993 through advanced teacher preparation and mentoring that is provided by Academy members.  The more than 290 (ten from Central Illinois) currently active Academy members have greater than 2,000 collective years of teaching experience.

About Golden Apple
Celebrating its 29th anniversary, Golden Apple began with founders Mike and Pat Koldyke and a shared inspiration-to offer outstanding schoolteachers a level of recognition and engagement in the larger work of education reform. Golden Apple's successful track record of integrated, innovative programs and resources enhance the quality, resiliency and creativity of classroom teachers and improve teaching and learning throughout Illinois. Qualified, passionate educators-including Golden Apple Award recipients and finalists-lead a small staff of dedicated employees with functional and program expertise. A connected and committed board of directors oversees Golden Apple's strategic direction. Together with a larger community of expert educators, this nonprofit organization works to ensure that all Illinois children have the excellent teachers they deserve, particularly within schools of need.  Visit www.goldenapple.org for more information.


Melissa Talaber Matwyshyn
6th – 8th Language Arts, Mathematics, Reading, and Science
St. Nicholas Cathedral School
Chicago, IL

Melissa Talaber Matwyshyn embraces the word commitment. Melissa states that teaching is worth every minute of planning, sharing and seeing the students grow as young scientists and responsible human beings. She believes that it is through connections that learning can truly become meaningful and the goal of lifelong learning really attainable.  Melissa cannot think of anything more rewarding than working with children. She loves to share what she does with her colleagues, to help them with tools.  Together they share their struggles and celebrate their rewards.  Melissa believes it is not one person who makes St. Nicholas students amazing but the strengths of those educators around her working together.

Anand Sukumaran
K-8th Band, Piano/Keyboard, Guitar, Songwriting and General Music
Mary Gage Peterson Elementary School

Anand Sukumaran began his education in music with the intention of becoming a performance artist but realized that line of work was isolating.  After taking classes in music education, Anand was hooked on being a teacher and helping others discover a passion for music.  Anand enjoys being able to share his knowledge and musical talent.  When he comes to school he believes in contributing to the community. Anand entered Peterson as a music teacher with little resources; there were few instruments, no keyboards, and no band.  Through his fundraising efforts and networking, the school has a thriving music program with enough instruments for students, including a keyboard lab with a live video feed of teacher's keyboard so all students can visualize instructions.

Margot Van Dyke
7th General Science
O'Neill Middle School
Downers Grove

Margot Van Dyke is concerned about the future of her students in a world that needs a source of sustainable energy.  Because people have a difficult time coming to consensus on how to solve our energy problem she has chosen to work as an actual research scientist in a university and bring what she learns back to her middle school classes.  She tells everyone that she teaches because she loves it!  Students make her laugh daily. It warms her heart especially when her students email her with jokes to cheer her as she stays home every third week to recover from her chemotherapy treatments. She doesn't have children of her own but says she gets "140 new kids each year and they matter."

For more information contact:
Eileen Rochford
Ph: 312-953-3305

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