The community nominated hundreds of teachers from public and non-public schools in Winnebago and Boone Counties and participated in 320 observations of the 20 Finalists for the Golden Apple. Today that process culminated with surprise classroom presentations of five Golden Apple Teacher Awards to the following educators:

Michael A. Lantz, Guilford High School-Rockford

Economics, Government, & World Geography
M.A. Secondary Education—Grand Canyon University
B.S. History—Illinois State University
Special Education Certification—Northern Illinois University
Teaching Experience: 13 Years

Kathryn Linden, East High School-Rockford

9th grade English
M.A. Education, Curriculum & Instruction-Northern Illinois University
B.A. Elementary Education—Illinois State University
Teaching Experience: 7.5 Years

Bethany Pitman, Rockford Lutheran Jr/Sr High School-Rockford

8th & 10th grade English
B.A. Education—Concordia University, Nebraska
Teaching Experience: 5.5 Years

Jilian Reints, Belvidere High School & Belvidere North High School-Belvidere

M.S. Art Education—Northern Illinois University
B.S. Art Education—Northern Illinois University
A.A. Art Education—Joliet Junior College
Teaching Experience: 7.5 Years

Michael Winebrenner, North Boone Middle School—Poplar Grove

8th grade Social Studies
M.A. Curriculum-National Louis University
B.S History—Northern Illinois University
A.S.—McHenry County College
Teaching Experience: 14 Years

These awards were presented by members of our community who believe in the importance of recognizing and supporting excellence in the classroom: Tim White of UTC Aerospace Systems, Josh Trust of the Rockford Register Star, Meg Hodge of Andy’s Books for Kids, Kathy Weber of BMO Harris Bank, and 13 WREX.

Now the community is invited to celebrate the excellent educators of Winnebago & Boone Counties at the 17th Annual Excellence in Education Banquet on Friday, April 26th at the Radisson Hotel & Convention Center, sponsored by First Rockford Group. That evening we will celebrate the five Golden Apple recipients, the 15 Golden Apple finalists, one outstanding principal, the recipient of the Golden Apple Foundation Service Award, and the recipients of six classroom grants. Reservations can be made by calling 815-226-4180 or emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. CLICK HERE for reservation forms.