Marquette Elementary


Golden Apple Foundation celebrated the 2020 Golden Apple teacher nominees at the Nominee Reception, presented by Rockford Univeristy, on Nov. 19, 2019. Teachers, administrators and their supporters enjoyed delicious appetizers and socializing with 250 teachers, administrators and Golden Apple supporters.

The evening started out with a welcome by Dr. Eric Fulcomer and then Suzette Muck, 2018 Golden Apple finalist, gave an inspiring speech about her own experience as a finalist. She talked about her own self-reflection and introspection writing the portfolio and encouraged nominees to honor their nomination by taking the next step in the process and submitting a teacher portfolio. The portfolios are due at 5 p.m. on December 3, 2019. Portfolios may be emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; faxed to 815-394-5014 or dropped off to the Golden Apple office located at Rockford University, Scarborough Hall, Room 9. (lower level) 

Teachers are encouraged to reach out to Golden Apple Foundation with any questions at 815-226-4180 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Special thanks to our presenting sponsor Rockford University, and to our booth sponsor, Meemic Insurance.

PHOTOS: Marquette Elementary Nominees celebrate! 

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During the past month, parents, students and community members submitted 1,261 nominations for 601 of their favorite primary level teachers who exemplify excellence in the classroom. Below are just a few of the comments about the PreK - 5th grade teachers in Winnebago and Boone counties nominated for the prestigious 2020 Golden Apple Teacher Awards:

"I think [she] should win because she taught us so much and made us way smarter than we already were. She taught us a lot of math patterns and I'm still learning a bunch." 

[She] is a true leader in our school with literacy instruction which is so critical for 1st grade students. She combines strong values and beliefs about what students need to learn with high expectations."

"[He] is a very nice teacher and cares about our grades a lot."

All nominees, regardless of eligibility, are encouraged to attend the Nominee Reception from 4:30-6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 19, at Regents Hall in Burpee Center at Rockford University. Nominees will enjoy socializing, appetizers and celebrating 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

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Students, parents, faculty and community members are encouraged to express their gratitude to area teachers by nominating one or more teachers for the 2020 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 PreK – 5th 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 21, 2019. 

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.

PHOTO: Katherine Koehler is awarded the 2018 Golden Apple Award in her classroom at Ledgewood Elementary. Her students felt like they won too!


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Golden Apple Foundation and McDonalds are celebrating the 2019 Golden Apple teachers with trayliners at 18 local McDonalds restaurants. McDonalds partners with Golden Apple Foundation to promote excellence in education throughout the year, including the the Golden Apple Breakfast that honors the Top 20 Finalists each February. McDonalds also offers McTeacher Nights as a way for an entire school or an organization within a school to raise funds.

Nominations are currently being accepted for PreK-5th grade teachers. Go online to nominate an outstanding teacher or visit a local school or library in Winnebago and Boone counties for a nomination form. It will only take a few minutes to recognize a teacher and it will make their day! Deadline to nominate is October 21, 2019.

Trayliners can be found at the following McDonalds locations: 3237 11th St Rockford, 4403 Harrison Avenue Rockford, 6995 E. Riverside Blvd. Rockford, 420 S. Perryville Rd. Rockford, 5195 Elevator Rd. Roscoe, 10101 N. 2nd St. Machesney Park, 2622 Charles St. Rockford, 6000 N 2nd St. Loves Park, 1441 Kishwaukee St. Rockford, 3710 Auburn St. Rockford, 3858 Northridge Dr. Rockford, 930 W Riverside Boulevard Rockford, 4623 State St. Rockford, 4365 11th St. Rockford, 314 N Mulford Rd Rockford, 1032 E. Sate St. Rockford, 1313 N. State St. Belvidere and 240 W. Chrysler Dr. Belvidere.

Golden Apple Foundation would like to thank KMK Media Group for creating the trayliner design. 

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Golden Apple project grant applications are now available for the 2019-20 school year. This program gives teachers the opportunity to develop and implement educational projects that enhance the learning experience for their students. We have updated our grant application form to make it easier for you and we have increased our grants up to $2,500! The form includes fillable fields for your convenience and Rasmussen College has added a new Community Reinvestment Grant offering up to $2,500 to address a community need/problem.

Golden Apple annual grants range from $150 to $2,500 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 4, 2019. Click here for further details, including the application 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.  Special thanks to our sponsors Andy's Books for Kids and Rasmussen College, who help to make this program possible.



On September 19, 100 community volunteers will deliver 6,000 fresh apples donated by Schnucks and thank you cards to teachers in over 150 Winnebago and Boone County Public and Non-Public Schools to thank them for the crucial work they do each day in the classroom with our children. The delicious apples are a symbol of all that is good in education and Golden Apple Foundation takes this opportunity to invite the community to recognize the important commitment made by teachers.  Sign up today at

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Enjoy the fun and eat at Casey's, drop in and a volunteer will get your take-out meals ready for you or just relax and have an adult beverage or two! Dinner proceeds and celebrity bartender tips benefit GAF's programming in the 2019-2020 school year. Your $15 dinner ticket includes all this: pizza, pasta, salad and garlic bread! Our entertainment, er, bartenders include board member, Thomas Kress of Associated Bank; Dr. Ehren Jarrett, RPS205 Superintendent; board member, Dr. Michael Born of SwedishAmerican Hospital; board treasurer, Lori Diaz of Rockford Bank & Trust; Golden Apple Academy members, Rich Toppe and Cindy Adami; and board fund development chair, Sarilyn Neiber of Illinois Bank & Trust. Dinner tickets are available on the Golden Apple website or at the event. Open to the public, but of course, you must be 21 to consume adult beverages! Casey's Pub is located at 7307 N. Alpine Road in Loves Park. Golden Apple Foundation accepts secure, online donations. Transactions are processed by the PayTrace payment processing system. Contact Golden Apple: 815-226-4180 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with any questions.



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Thanks to the strong support of our dedicated Golden Apple supporters, the 2nd Annual Appetite for Education event to be held at 5:30 p.m. on September 28 at Abreo Restaurant located at 515 E. State Street, in Rockford, is SOLD OUT. Guests will enjoy a one-of-a-kind 6 course meal and wine pairing table-side with award-winning local chef Chef Paul Sletten. 

Tickets are $160 each or $300 per couple. Ticket price includes dinner, wine pairing with each course and a signature cocktail. Wine pairings will be available for purchase at the end of the evening, with 50% of the proceeds to benefit GAF. Call the Golden Apple office at 815-226-4180 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.with questions.

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The 23rd Annual Excellence in Education Banquet is coming up on Friday, April 26, 2019 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 12. 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 2019 Outstanding Principal, 2019 Jan Jones recipient, and  2019 Assistant Principal Program recipient. This year's 5 Golden Apple teacher award recipients are Candice Cortese of Hononegah, Jeremy Edwards of Belvidere High School, Amanda McCallister of Roosevelt CEC, Amanda Newmes of Belvidere North High School and Molly Priest of Eisenhower Middle School,

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.PHOTO: Candice Cortese is surprised with her Golden Apple in the classroom by Golden Apple sponsor, Thomas Kress, Market President of Associated Bank. 

Molly Priest

Rockford native, Molly Priest has been teaching for 14 years. For the past nine years, she’s been teaching sixth grade general and environmental science at Eisenhower Middle School, a school she attended in her youth. A student nominator said, “Mrs. Priest is an amazing teacher. She makes learning fun. When you are in her classroom, you feel like you are cared for and safe. She always encourages her students to develop their learning. She is more than a teacher; Mrs. Priest is also a friend, a philosopher and a guide to the students.” Principal Jeff Carlson knows that many students consider her a favorite teacher. He says that it is not just because of her caring relationship with them, but also because of her creative lessons which engage each and every student. “It’s not uncommon to see her standing on a table to demonstrate a topic or to utilize any number of creative strategies to help students remember the objectives she wants them to obtain.” Her efforts do get results. In 2017, she was recognized by both WZOK and WREX-13 with Teacher of the Week awards. In 2018, more than 70-percent of her students met or exceeded their fall to spring MAP goals and in one of her classes, 92-percent of her students met or exceeded their fall to spring MAP goals. Molly lets her students know that mistakes are OK. “My learners have also discovered that wrong answers often lead to great classroom discussions where students are allowed the opportunity to teach one another.” She’s also “honest with students about the mistakes I have made, and I try to model the process in which one can analyze and learn from their mishaps.” Molly genuinely cares about her students. In 2016, when she was diagnosed with cancer, she learned how much they also care about her. Upon her return to class after treatment, she found a giant ribbon covering her wall. The ribbon contained letters from every student and on her desk were pictures and letters of encouragement. Another student who nominated Molly, said, “She puts a smile on my face. She made me love science and is very good at teaching even through difficult times. She really has been through a lot but always manages to find happiness to teach her students.” Molly says, “Alongside my family and friends, my students helped me get through the darkest days of my life and for that I will always be grateful.” Molly encourages goal-setting and positive thinking. Her students reflect on their progress and she brainstorms with them to find ways to achieve their learning goals. They develop confidence and take pride in their achievements. “No matter where a student starts, they are capable of growth.” She enjoys working with progressive, supportive staff and administrators, as well as a diverse student body. “We celebrate and respect our differences, all the while finding ways to connect to one another, as we all have the same goal: to be academically, socially and emotionally prepared for the future.” Susie Lynch, an EMS parent and Booster Club President considers Molly, “a once in a lifetime teacher, the teacher you always dream of, hope your child will have for inspiration, for involvement and for instilling a love of learning.” Molly, in concluding her portfolio shared that she wants her students to love and value learning as much as she does. “I am hopeful that I am making a positive difference in the lives of my students and our Rockford community. My ultimate goal is for my students to be proud to say they grew up in Rockford too!”

Sheila Morrall

Sheila Morrall of Poplar Grove has been teaching in the Belvidere School District for 23 years, 16 at Belvidere South Middle School, where she teaches Spanish to students in 6th-8th grades. Assistant Principal, Linda Colson, says that Sheila’s “excitement and enthusiasm for learning is contagious not only for her students, but also for her colleagues. She finds ways to make her lessons engaging and memorable for the students.” In fact, one day, Colson saw the students in Sheila’s class singing a song in Spanish to help with vocabulary retention. She also shared that Sheila “builds relationships with her students and it is evident she cares about the whole child. In her classroom, students come first and content comes second.” Sheila agrees. “It is not the teaching of my topic that changes things, it is the connections and the relationships that are built that teach our youth how to be productive citizens in our world.” Sheila has been training, translating and teaching on mission trips to Belize for the past five years. Cathy Dulgar of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Belvidere has been on those trips and sees the impact Sheila makes. “This is a teacher that takes her gifts and talents to make a difference in the lives of those she meets along her path.” Sheila’s students come from various socio-economic backgrounds. They are of varying ethnicities. Some have medical issues or language barriers. But she says, “regardless of our personal differences, we learn together and help each other grow and strive in my classroom. I love that each person is unique and has talents and abilities that no one else has.” Sheila knows that as her students and their individual needs change, her teaching style has had to change as well. She sets high expectations but helps her students set plans to accomplish their goals. And the students join her in assessing and reassessing their work, formally and informally. Sheila says that classroom technology changes the dynamic of the room. “Students become leaders through their technology strengths as they teach everyone in the classroom, including me, new things that they are finding. They have a ‘can do’ attitude and know that if they can’t, it is just ‘not yet.’” Despite any challenges the profession of teaching may present, Sheila has seen so many rewards that keep her motivated to keep learning, keep teaching and keep watching her students succeed.