GAF Logo Whitespace

Golden Apple Foundation is pleased to announce the names of 20 teachers from Winnebago and Boone County who have been selected to move forward in the process for the 2019 Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching.  These talented 6th - 12th grade teachers were chosen by a selection committee of community volunteers who had the difficult task of selecting only 20 teachers from a large group of worthy nominees.

Please join us in congratulating the following excellent teachers….

Ashley Boyer
North Boone Middle School - Poplar Grove
8th Grade English and Reading

Jean Chambers
Hononegah Community High School - Rockton
9th grade English, World Lit; 12th grade British Lit

Candice Cortese
Hononegah Community High School - Rockton
Trig-PreCalculus and Algebra IIAB

Jeremy Edwards
Belvidere High School - Belvidere

Daniel Foster
Belvidere High School - Belvidere

Jessica Gerrond
Rockford East High School - Rockford
9th-12th grade Reading, English, Global Studies, Hard of Hearing/Deaf

Michael Manke
Rockford Christian Middle School - Rockford
7th Grade Physical Science

Amanda McCallister
Roosevelt Community Education Center - Rockford
Algebra, Geometry, Beginning Computer Apps

Sheila Morrall
Belvidere South Middle School - Belvidere
6th-9th grade Spanish

Amanda Newmes
Belvidere North High School - Belvidere

Jennifer Osar
Harlem High School - Machesney Park
HS Algebra and Trig

Mark J. Peterson
Auburn High School - Rockford
Reading, English, ESL

Jeff Pettera
Christian Life High School - Rockford
Anatomy, Biology, Chemistry, Physics

Molly Priest
Eisenhower Middle School - Rockford
6th grade Environmental and General Science

Chelsea Pruitt
Harlem Middle School - Loves Park
7th Grade ELA

Rob Ullrich
North Boone Middle School - Poplar Grove
7th grade Social Studies

Stephanie Valderrama
RESA - Rockford
6th grade Multi-Language lab; 7th, 8th grade Spanish

Melissa Wolf
Guilford High School - Rockford
9th-12th grades Theater Arts

Betsy Young
Harlem Middle School - Loves Park
7th and 8th grades Band, Choir and Piano Lab

Flori Zeqiri
Harlem Middle School - Loves Park
7th grade Social Studies


These teachers will be observed in their classrooms by trained community volunteers on three separate occasions between Jan. 15 and Feb. 15, 2019. The next step in the selection process after observations is an interview. The process culminates with the selection of five teachers who will receive the prestigious Golden Apple Award in surprise classroom presentations featured by WREX-13 and the Rockford Register Star.

Each Golden Apple award winning teacher will receive a cash award; a professional development stipend; a Rockford University Scholarship and a computer compliments of Entré Computer Solutions. In addition, they will be inducted into the Golden Apple Teacher Academy where, as members, they will work to increase public awareness of educational excellence in our schools, promote the profession of education and provide professional development training and mentoring to new and veteran teachers.

Golden Apple Foundation is celebrating its 23rd year of taking positive steps to achieve improved education in Winnebago and Boone counties. The Annual Golden Apple Banquet recognizing Excellence in Education and honoring the Golden Apple finalists will be held Friday, April 26, 2019, at Giovanni's, sponsored by Bergstrom Inc. Charitable Foundation.

Golden Apple Foundation inspires, recognizes and supports excellence in education in our community.

For more information, contact Jennifer Stark at 815-226-4180 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

apple trophies

During the past month, parents, students and community members submitted 1,156 nominations for 445 of their favorite secondary level teachers who exemplify excellence in the classroom. These are just some of the comments about the 6th-12th grade teachers in Winnebago and Boone counties nominated for the prestigious 2019 Golden Apple Teacher Awards.

"If I could nominate him 100,000 times, I would. He is a very inspiring teacher and helps his students when they are stuck. I couldn't have made it through my first day of high school without him." [She] is an amazing demonstration of a teacher who can teach a challenging class in a way that attracts students and pulls them into the fun." “He has been teaching for 44 years and he is still enthusiastic about it.” “She is a wonderful teacher and great coach. She is why I go to school." 

All nominees, regardless of eligibility, are encouraged to attend the Nominee Reception from 4:30-6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 13, at Regents Hall in Burpee Center at Rockford University. Nominees will enjoy socializing, appetizers and networking with other teachers. Special thanks to our Nominee Reception Sponsor, Rockford University. 

Click here for a full list of nominees.

Golden Apple Foundation inspires, celebrates and supports educational excellence in our community. To learn more about the foundation, visit our website at

apples 140 100

Students, parents, faculty and community members are encouraged to express their gratitude to area teachers by nominating one or more teachers for the 2019 Golden Apple Award. 

Online nominations can be made at Paper forms are available in all area schools and participating community sites and can be submitted to Golden Apple Foundation’s office at 5050 E. State St., Rockford, IL 61108.

This year Golden Apple Foundation will award teachers of 6th – 12th grades. To be eligible the nominee must be a teacher in Winnebago or Boone county who teaches a group of students in a classroom on a regular basis. Nominations for the Golden Apple Teacher Awards will be accepted through October 15, 2018. 

For additional information or to display paper nomination forms at your business or organization, contact the Golden Apple Foundation office, at 815-226-4180 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


apple sorting pic 2015 website version 140 100

Help bring a smile to a teacher's face! Golden Apple Foundation is seeking volunteers to deliver fresh apples and thank you cards to more than 6,000 teachers in Winnebago and Boone counties. You select the school(s) of your choice and pick up apples anytime 7-9 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 13 at Schnucks Market E. State location and then deliver to schools. This special day is our way of thanking teachers for the impact they make on student's lives. We will also bring Golden Apple teacher nomination forms to school offices to remind students, parents and community members to nominate their fabulous teachers. Click here to register to help or contact us at 815-226-4180 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information. Special thanks to Schnuck Markets whose sponsorship makes this day possible. 


  flexible seating6 Bored Teachers grande     


Golden Apple offers professional develoment at KIDS each year. Our first session will be held 4:30-6:30 p.m. on October 16, 2018 and our topics will include classroom re-design, flexible seating and blended learning.


When: October 16, 2018 from 4:30-6:30 p.m.

Where: KIDS, 300 Heart Blvd. Loves Park      

Cost: $10 per session   PDC’s available

Register at or call KIDS at 815-636-3040


Classroom Re-design and Flexible Seating

- Explore ways to redesign your classroom to benefit both students and teachers.

- Learn ways to integrate progressive seating styles to enhance student focus.

          Presented by Meghan Hembrough, 1st Grade Teacher, Loves Park Elementary

Blended Learning and Flexible Seating

- Gain insight into the mindset of student and teacher blended learning.

- Discover a framework for implementing blended learning and flexible seating into your classroom.

- Learn how to create a more student centered system in your classroom and online.

Presented by Amanda Newmes, Science Teacher, Belvidere North High School



Golden Apple is pleased to invite you to our new culinary event, "Appetite for Education" at 5:30 p.m. on October 26 at Abreo Restaurant. Enjoy a one-of-a-kind 6 course meal and wine pairing table-side with award-winning local chef Chef Paul Sletten.

Tickets are $150 each or $280 per couple. Ticket price includes dinner, wine pairing with each course and a signature cocktail. Click here to purchase tickets or call 815-226-4180.


Michelle GorhamRich RowlettThurmond

The board of directors of the Golden Apple Foundation of Rockford voted in new members at its last meeting. They include Rich Rowlett, Remote Operations Team Leader at Field Fastener; and Rockford Police Resident Officer Thurmond, Resident Officer Community Keeper with the Rockford Police Department. Martha Kaiser will be the new Golden Academy representative on the board, replacing Megan ForsytheMichelle Gorham, Chief Advancement Officer with YMCA of Rock River Valley, was elected board chair, replacing Jeffrey Powell, who will remain on the board.


Riverboat Invite 3 Proof 

Ride the Rock from 2:30-4:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 16, 2018 for a fun riverboat excursion and icecream social benefitting Golden Apple Foundation. Come enjoy breathtaking views of the Rock River and the Blackhawk Statue on The Pride of Oregon - An Authentic Paddle Wheel Riverboat!

Limited seating...get your tickets early! Ice cream and desserts will be served. Boarding begins at 2:00 p.m., with boat departure promptly at 2:30 p.m. from Maxon Riverside Restaurant located at 1469 Illinois Route 2, in Oregon. Tickets are $50 for adults; $20 for ages 5-12 years old and under 5 years old are free. Contact Golden Apple Foundation with questions at 815-226-4180 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Click here to purchase tickets online. 

Golden Apple Foundation is a volunteer-driven organization that inspires, celebrates and supports educational excellence in our community. Proceeds from this event will help to fund Golden Apple programming in the 2018-19 school year. 



Grant BigGroup copy

Golden Apple project grant applications are now available for the 2018-19 school year. This program gives teachers the opportunity to develop and implement educational projects that enhance the learning experience for their students. 

The annual grants range from $150 to $1,500 each. PreK - 12th grade teachers in Winnebago or Boone County Public or ISBE recognized non-public schools are encouraged to apply. The deadline to apply is 5 p.m. on November 5, 2018. Click here for further details, including the applicationcriteria and a list of past recipients. Contact Jennifer Stark, Executive Director, at 815-226-4180 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with questions.  

PHOTO: 2017-18 Grant recipients: Standing (L-R) Ashley Smith, Tiffany Aurand, Kristin Schmidt, Jeff Powell (Board Chair), Meg Hodges (Andy's Books for Kids) Laua Benkovich and Anne Hart. Front (L-R) Meghan Hembrough, Amy Maier, Suzette Muck, Carrie Norder-Pagan and Cindy Maten.


Join Golden Apple and eat pancakes for a good cause! Shortstacks for a Tall Cause will take place from 8-10 a.m. on Saturday, June 30 at Applebee's located at 2126 Gateway Center Drive in Belvidere. (near Wal-Mart)  Purchase your $5 ticket in advance or at the door. $4 of every ticket supports Golden Apple programming. Hope to see you there! Contact GAF at 815-226-4180 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with questions.


The 22nd Annual Excellence in Education Banquet is coming up on Friday, April 27, 2018 at Giovanni's.  Red Carpet begins at 5:30 with a cash bar cocktail hour. The program portion starts promptly at 6:28 p.m., followed by dinner. The deadline to register is April 13. To purchase your ticket or table, click here. (If it is after the deadline, check in at the office, we still may be able to accommodate your request.)

Golden Apple is proud to be celebrating our exceptional Top 20 teacher finalists, our 2018 Outstanding Principal Amber Miller, 2018 Jan Jones recipient Officer Eric Thurmond, Asst Principal Program recipient Linda Colson. This year's 5 Golden Apple teacher award recipients are Rachel Huetson of Nelson Elementary, Katherine Koehler of Ledgewood Elementary, Gabriela Nunuz-Reagan of Seth Whitman Elementary, Ashley Schwabero of Prairie Hill Elementary and Lance Tuula of Whitman Post Elementary.

To learn more about our Top 20 teacher finalists, see our news feed on this website which includes a bio on each of these exceptional educators.

Cocktail attire is recommended. For more information about the Banquet, call the office at 815-226-4180 or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.