Golden Apple News, Outstanding Principal Award Recipient

2023 – Carolyn Timm

Cherry Valley Elementary, Rockford

Bachelors in Elementary Education – Western Illinois University

Masters in Curriculum and Instruction – St. Xavier

Principal Endorsement – Aurora University

Congratulations to the 2023 Golden Apple Outstanding Principal!

This year, Golden Apple Foundation is pleased to honor Mrs. Carolyn Timm, principal at Cherry Valley Elementary School in the Rockford School District, as the 17th Golden Apple Outstanding Principal. The award is sponsored by McDonald’s Corporation. She received an award and $1,000 to be used in her school in a surprise presentation at Cherry Valley Elementary on April 10, and be further recognized at the Golden Apple Excellence in Education banquet on April 28, 2023, at the Tebala Event Center.

Timm, who lives in Stillman Valley, has been principal of Cherry Valley Elementary since it opened in the 2018-2019 school year. She had been principal of White Swan Elementary since 2016. Cherry Valley combined students and staff from White Swan, Thompson and the former Cherry Valley School. Before coming to Rockford, Timm was a junior high math teacher in the Meridian Community Unit School District for more than 10 years. She taught at Kennedy Middle School for six years before that and also taught in private schools.

Opening a school bringing together three different school staffs would challenge most people. Carolyn made sure to keep the focus on the students though, reminding all staff that no matter what, they all needed to do “what is best for kids.” She developed several strategies to increase student success including morning tutoring, after school club, mobile block parties and attendance buddies. She’s ridden a whole bus route with students who had previous bus issues just to make sure they felt comfortable and got home safely. Anything to make students feel cared for, so they can continue social and academic growth. Carolyn also does whatever she can to help staff, from bringing in guest speakers or sending staff to specific training, to cutting laminated materials left in the lounge. She listens to their ideas and provides encouragement for them to take leadership, make decisions and solve problems. “She expects growth from her teachers but offers time and support for them to get there,” wrote the teachers who nominated her. Carolyn excels at showing empathy for everyone while also not tolerating drama. She works hard to make everyone feel included and welcome. In the summer, her staff and community partners ride a bus through the neighborhoods to distribute backpacks and information for the upcoming year. She did eliminate food treats in the building – a less popular move, but still one made with the best interest of the kids in mind, because of student dietary restrictions. “Mrs. Timm never wants students to feel left out because of matters out of their control. Instead, the school focuses on non-food rewards and celebrations of social and academic growth,” such as red-carpet celebrations, during which students walk or dance down a red carpet to receive awards in front of their entire grade level.