2023 Golden Apple Award Finalists

Kimberly Plaster

Kimberly Plaster of Marengo teaches third grade math and science at Galapagos Rockford Charter School, where she’s in her sixth year of teaching. She’s also pursuing her Masters in Special Education. Chief Academic Officer Stephanie Boeddeker wrote, “Kim challenges scholars to put their best foot forward on a daily basis. She has become skilled at creating an environment where scholars feel both challenged and loved.” When students are struggling with a concept or with finding an answer in Kimberly’s class, you may hear “challenge accepted” called out! She finds this “a positive way to encourage scholars to take a challenge head on.” Challenging scholars is done in many different ways and for different purposes. Kimberly says, “I challenge them to solve problems with each other; I challenge them to talk about what they need in order to be successful; and I challenge them to make choices with integrity. My goal is to help my scholars become well-rounded individuals and that does not only include academics.” She uses the last 15 minutes of the day to bring her class together as a crew to solve issues, discuss emotions, talk about differences, share about the day and set goals for the next day. She wants students to learn to use each other’s differences to make the crew stronger and to assume the best in each other. One Golden Apple Academy member who observed Kimberly’s class commented about the mutual respect between students and teacher and how all the students were enthusiastically engaged throughout the lesson. John Oliver, Dean of School Culture, wrote that, “Ms. Plaster is a master at making learning fun; and therefore, she helps bring her scholars to greater heights academically and personally.”