Rick Elston Guilford HS

Rick Elston, who teaches Ninth Grade Honors World History and 9th-12th grade AP World History, has been teaching at Guilford High School for 17 years. Rick says, “As much as you learn in college education courses and the hours of observation and finally the student teaching experience, nothing prepares you for teaching your own classes.” “I tell my students that success in school and life starts with showing up and working every day.” “The number one goal of all teachers is to have all students reach high standards and expectations. That starts with the teacher. If the teacher has high standards and expectations for themselves, the students will follow their example. I really try to set the bar high, and then I have to work with each student to not only reach the standard for class, but to then set their own bar a little higher.“ Rick stresses, “it is great to understand and appreciate the differences of others but [I] also focus on what we all share in common. Social studies courses allow … opportunity to discuss issues like race, class and gender in different times and places. This provides a springboard and context to discuss these issues as they affect society, and our students, today. Some of these discussions are uncomfortable, but we always follow the rule that it is OK to disagree without being disagreeable. I try to provide a safe space for students to develop, share and expand their ideas about each other and themselves.”


Kimber Perala is in her ninth year at South Beloit, She teaches AP Psychology, Sociology, World Cultures, Government and Consumer Education. Kimber is a second-career educator who has worked as a legal secretary, then worked in the public sector at the Winnebago County public defender’s office, then went into private practice doing criminal, civil and municipal law. Her time showed her how a lack of education impacts a young person’s life and at 40, she got her teaching certificate and master’s degree. “I believed that if I could be instrumental in keeping one at-risk kid in school, I had made a good decision. I can proudly say that I have kept that promise to myself” … “Every day is a challenge when a teacher is competing with outside forces like crime, gangs and family issues. I believe I present an open atmosphere where students feel safe to be themselves and learn how successful they can be on their own” … “I have had multiple emails from prior students who want to discuss the issues in this election and who proudly tell me that they voted for the first time. I want to get them interested. I want them to debate issues … [and]…“challenge ideas. It has been a really fun fall.” From her student nominator, “She gives us the skills that we will need for the rest of our lives.”

Jeremy Edwards

Jeremy Edwards is in his third year at Belvidere High School. He teaches Freshman Biology, Accelerated Biology and Advanced Placement Biology “My classroom today barely resembles my initial classroom in 2001…my past and current students, colleagues and administrators have taught me so much…students have taught me I don’t have to find the perfect lesson for each one of them. The perfect lesson is the one they find for themselves… I am so grateful to all the amazing people who inspired me to give up the control in order to create a classroom that finally meets my vision for an amazing learning environment.”

Sara Wolf

Sara Wolf is in her 12th year teaching at Belvidere Central. She teaches sixth grade social studies and math. She says, “Teaching a student who is hungry, scared or being pressured to do things they aren’t sure about doing outside of the classroom makes teaching a difficult job.” “This connection that I have created with these children has everything to do with the success that happens inside the walls of my classroom. I have and will do almost anything to create an environment where our woes can be briefly put on a shelf and learning can flourish.” “Being a teacher is so much more than the lesson that happens at the front of the classroom! I hold myself accountable to be the kind of teacher I want my own children to have; therefore, input from students, parents, my colleagues and administration has shaped my efforts as an educator.” 



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 2017 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….

Jeff Corn
North Boone High School - Poplar Grove
9-12 Geometry, Honors PreCalculus, AP Calculus


Christina Dover
Eisenhower Middle School - Rockford
8th grade ELA & Honors ELA


Jeremy Edwards
Belvidere High School -
Freshman Biology


Richard Elston
Guilford High School - Rockford
9-10 World History; 9th Honors World History


Thomas Freesmeier
Harlem Middle School - Machesney Park
8th grade Social Studies


Alex Hartz
Hononegah Community High School - Rockton
9-12 Math: Algebra 1AB, Algebra 2, AP Calculus BC


C. Kent Holden
Maria Montessori Elementary - Rockford
7th & 8th grade Math & Science


Linda Julian
Willowbrook Middle School - South Beloit
5-8 Choir; 7th grade Speech; General Music


Jennifer Keller
Harlem High School - Machesney Park
9-12 German


Michael Manke
Rockford Christian - Rockford
7th Grade Physical Science


Joe Meersman
Boylan Catholic High School - Rockford
9-12 Accounting, Business Law, Marketing, Information Processing 1&2


Kimber Perala
South Beloit High School -
South Beloit
HS Government, Sociology, Consumer Education, World Culture, AP Psychology


Heather Plourde
Hononegah Community High School - Rockton
9th grade Physical Education; 10-12 Health


Sarah Schaefer
Roosevelt Community Education Center - Rockford
10-12 Enviro 1&2; Earth 1&2; Biology 1&2; Robotic Integrated Algebra-based Physics


Susan Schroepfer
Harlem High School - Machesney Park
7-8 Special Education; cross categorical Math, Geometry & Algebra 2


Lis Schurman
Belvidere Central Middle School -
6th-8th grade Band


Julie Thomas
Harlem High School - Machesney Park
9-12 Spanish


Danielle Turner
Belvidere High School -
9th Grade Health Education


Sarah Wolf
Belvidere Central Middle School -
6th Grade Social Studies & Math


Jared Young
Belvidere North High School
- Belvidere
9-12 Business

These teachers will be observed in their classrooms by trained community volunteers on four separate occasions between Jan. 17 and Feb. 17, 2017. 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.

Individuals interested in participating as a Golden Apple classroom observer can register online at www.goldenappleofrockford.com or call 815-226-4180.

Each Golden Apple award winning teacher will receive a cash award; a professional development stipend; a Rockford University Scholarship; a laptop computer and computer software compliments of Entré Computer Solutions; a desktop computer compliments of Rockford Computers for Schools; and two sets of season tickets to the Rockford Coronado Concert Association 2017-2018 season. 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 21st 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 Teachers will be held Friday, April 28, 2017, at the Radisson Hotel & Conference Center, sponsored by First Midwest Group, Inc.

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..


Golden Apple Foundation is pleased to offer a unique professional education opportunity for qualifying assistant principals. Strong leadership is a skill fundamental to the improvement and maintenance of a positive school culture that facilitates student achievement and faculty motivation. Golden Apple Foundation offers the Investing in Excellence: Assistant Principal Development Program sponsored by First Midwest Group, Inc. Qualifying assistant principals are invited to apply between now and January 9, 2017.

Qualifying Assistant Principals must:

•           have completed two years of experience as an Assistant Principal;

•           have a maximum of five years of school leadership experience;

•           anticipate becoming a principal within the next two years;

•           be in good standing with his/her district/school;

•           be an Assistant Principal in District 100, 122, 131, 200, 205 or 207.

One Assistant Principal will be selected to attend the New and Aspiring School Leaders Program of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The expenses covered by this program are tuition for the New and Aspiring School Leaders Program, round-trip airfare, and a hotel stay of four nights. Upon the recipient’s return he/she will conduct a workshop to share what he/she learned from the experience with administrators of other schools in the area.

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

All applications must be received by the Golden Apple Foundation office located in Scarborough Hall, room 9, of Rockford University, 5050 E. State St., Rockford, IL 61108 by 5:00 p.m. on Monday, January 9, 2017.

Golden Apple Foundation inspires, celebrates and supports educational excellence in our community.

"[She] pushes her students to be the best they can be, not only as students, but also as human beings.” “[She] gives them the courage to follow their dreams and truly believes in her students" or “[He] does an awesome job of teaching … not only math but how to learn and be better students. He makes access to material super easy and stays in contact with parents. He is always willing to step up to the plate to help with anything [the school] needs.” These are just some of the comments about the 6th-12th grade teachers in Winnebago and Boone counties nominated for the prestigious Golden Apple Teacher Awards for 2017. During the past month, parents, students and colleagues submitted 924 nominations for 357 of their favorite teacher(s) who exemplify excellence in the classroom. Click here for the full list of nominees.


When: Nov 15th, 2016 4:30-6:30 PM at KIDS, 300 Heart Blvd. Loves Park

PDC's available

To register: Visit www.kidsroe.org or call KIDS at 815-636-3040

Cost: $10.00 Per session  

Sessions include information pertinent to the common core and the PARCC

for both elementary and secondary teachers

Managing your Classroom: Tech Trends 

Tues. November 15th, 2016



  •             Discover Free web-based apps
  • Effectivelly blend Technology with curriculum
  • Explore interactive online classroom management



Grab your friends and head on over to Artale Wine Co. 6876 Springcreek Road, Rockford for a wine tasting this Friday, October 7th. Come anytime between 5:30pm and 8:30pm.

No registration is required. The cost is $15 at the door and includes sampling of a variety of over 30 wines. Proceeds benefit the programs of Golden Apple Foundation including the Classroom Grant Program, the Professional Development Series for educators, professional recognition program, and more.

Golden Apple Foundation inspires, celebrates and supports educational excellence in our community. 

Don’t miss the deadline to nominate outstanding 6th - 12th grade teachers for the 2017 Golden Apple Award.  Monday, October 17, 2016 is the last day to nominate. Tell us in a few sentences why the nominee is outstanding. Nominations can be mailed to Golden Apple Foundation, 5050 E. State St., Rockford, IL 61108 or submitted on-line at www.goldenappleofrockford.com.  

It’s easy, anyone can nominate, and it means the world to teachers when they hear that they have had an impact so great on someone’s life that they took the time to nominate them for an award.  Make a teacher’s day!  Nominate now!   

Nomination forms are available at schools in Winnebago and Boone County and in the community, including the following Golden Apple Foundation sponsor sites: Schnucks, Alpine Bank, Rockford Bank & Trust, Associated Bank and branches of area Public Libraries

Nominations are also accepted online at www.goldenappleofrockford.com.

Five Golden Apples will be presented to select teachers in March and excellence in education will be celebrated at the 21st Annual Excellence in Education Banquet on April 28, 2017 at the Radisson Hotel.  But, first they have to be nominated!!

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.

Golden Apple Foundation inspires, celebrates and supports educational excellence in our community.