Get to Know Our 20 Finalists!
Laura Stites of Belvidere has been teaching for 29 years: various grades and subjects in Elgin, Huntley and, for the past 24 years, in Caledonia. She now teaches fifth grade math to three homerooms and English to one homeroom at Caledonia Elementary School. A fellow teacher noted in her recommendation, “many teachers with Laura’s experience would be satisfied to be a very good teacher; fortunately ... Laura is not one of them.” Laura is a Scholastic Bowl coach, Scripps Spelling Bee administer, fundraiser, recycler, Safety Patrol supervisor, field trip coordinator and much more on top of teaching, seeking ways to improve her teaching, collaborating with peers to enhance each others’ skills, and doing her best to help her students succeed. She says, “I challenge, monitor, and manage student learning to ensure that all students reach high standards and expectations. I like to think of my students in the same way I think of my own personal children. If it isn’t right for my own kids, it isn’t right for my students.” Laura says she tries to be firm, yet fun as she teaches by example. The student who nominated her confirmed that she makes learning fun. Her students have set up a Little Free Library at the school, started an art club and a random act of kindness program. “They are truly good people. I’d like to think a little of it is because I've made a commitment as an educator that has positively affected them.” Laura adds, “they say it takes a village to raise a child. It also takes a village to teach a child. Each of us brings different knowledge and insight about the students. We must work together to ensure their success. If I am selected as a Golden Apple finalist, it will certainly be because of every student, parent and co-worker. Each and every one of them has somehow helped shape me into who I am today.”