2023 Golden Apple Award Finalists, 2023 Golden Apple Award Recipients

Addie Wilson

Addie Wilson of Loves Park has been teaching for 17 years. She’s taught first and third grade but has been teaching second grade at Thurgood Marshall Elementary the past three years. Her classroom includes students from 11 countries including India, Egypt, Pakistan, Spain, Burma and Mexico. “Embracing each and every student’s family, celebrations and cultural norms, as well as understanding what makes them unique, solidifies a sense of belonging and purpose for my students.” But, she says, “it is also important for students to accept each other’s social, emotional and ability differences.” Her students have learned empathy through learning about each other. They’ve learned how a student who lost his sight now navigates his world and they’ve problem-solved with a student who was acting out after a failed experiment. One classroom observer said, “The respect between students and teacher as well as student to student is phenomenal”! Addie found a change in teaching strategy “revolutionary.” “Instead of prescribing for [students] how they should be learning, we began coaching them in understanding their own academic needs and setting specific goals for themselves. Then [we supported] those goals by teaching strategies for students to achieve them.” The pandemic forced the development of many new strategies as Addie learned to teach remotely. She held Zoom sessions with the full class, one-on-one, with parents and partnered with a colleague. “I learned so much about my adaptability as a teacher and the resiliency of my students.” Josh Rollins, former Dean of Gifted Services and current teacher at Marshall, praises Addie’s advocacy. “She advocated for additional support for struggling students even though it meant additional recordkeeping and meetings for her … she knew that with extra support at school and extra communication with parents/guardians at home, her students would achieve academic success, and they did …. The highest achieving student and the student who struggles the most feel an equal academic challenge in her classroom because Mrs. Wilson prepares her lessons with individual students in mind. She believes that all students deserve an opportunity to learn and grow.” Another observer remarked that she did a great job giving students with special needs the attention they needed while not ignoring the rest of the class. Addie acknowledges the mentorship of teachers when she started teaching; she now mentors others. She also works with peers to share knowledge and experience. “No one person can accomplish this immensely important and sometimes exhausting job alone.”