|“Be who you needed when you were younger.” This phrase is on a poster outside the classroom door of the recipient of the 2022 Don Zimmerman Golden Apple Foundation scholarship, reminding her daily of her commitment to her support her students of diverse backgrounds and learning abilities. It is important, because as a child, she was the only Hispanic student in a predominantly white community and desperately just wanted to blend in.
Golden Apple Foundation of Rockford, the family of Don Zimmerman and Rockford University are pleased to announce that Brenda Estrada of Monroe Center, who teaches 4th Grade Dual Language at Rock Cut Elementary in Loves Park, will receive full tuition to Rockford University for her first master’s degree of education and start classes this fall. Estrada has been teaching for four years, all at Rock Cut.
Illinois schools have a high demand for bilingual education teachers, second only to special education teachers. Estrada has observed this need at her school and wants to contribute to the needs of bilingual special education students to help them thrive. Ana Luisa Dominguez, director of Multicultural Education with Harlem CUSD 122, said Estrada has contributed greatly to the Harlem Language Academy Program through after school tutoring, participating on the Bilingual Parent Advisory Committee and working closely with her students so they can participate in cultural events. “She actively seeks professional development. I have full confidence that Brenda will continue to do great things.”
Don Zimmerman began teaching locally in 1956 at Rockford West High School as an orchestra teacher. He later taught at Guilford High School. His goal was to inspire students to excel to the best of their ability in every facet of their lives. Don and his friend, Dr. Richard Novak founded Golden Apple Foundation in 1997. The Foundation continues its mission of inspiring, celebrating and supporting educational excellence in our community through awards and recognition; the Golden Apple Teacher Academy; classroom project grants; and, since 2020, teacher scholarships. The Zimmerman family and Golden Apple Foundation developed this scholarship in Don’s memory, recognizing the importance of achieving a master’s degree for an educator to advance skills, position and salary. Don Zimmerman/Golden Apple Foundation Scholarship recipients must maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA. The first recipient of this scholarship, Meghan Baylor, a French teacher at Boylan Catholic High School, graduated from the master’s program in May.