The Don Zimmerman family and Golden Apple Foundation honor Don’s memory with the Don Zimmerman Golden Apple Scholarship. This scholarship grants an existing teacher a full-tuition scholarship at Rockford University to complete his or her first master’s degree in education.

About the Award

Golden Apple Foundation and the family of Don Zimmerman have partnered together to offer a scholarship opportunity for area teachers.

Don Zimmerman began teaching locally in 1956 at Rockford West High School as an Orchestra teacher. He later taught at Guilford High School and he inspired his students to excel to the best of their ability in every part of their lives.

Don was founder of the Rockford Chamber Orchestra and Rockford Area Youth Symphony Orchestra (RAYSO) and spent 10 summers with his family, teaching music at the Amherst Summer Music Camp in Maine.

Don Zimmerman, and his dear friend, Dr. Richard Novak, took their passions for education and spurred on a collective community effort to recognize excellence in teaching with the founding of Golden Apple Foundation in 1997.

It all began in Don’s garage, sorting apples and celebrating local Rockford Public Schools teachers and has grown to an organization that supports all public and ISBE recognized private schools in Winnebago and Boone counties.

The Foundation continues its mission of inspiring, celebrating and supporting educational excellence in our community through awards & recognition, the Golden Apple Teacher Academy, classroom grants and teacher scholarships.


  • Certified PreK-12th grade teacher who has completed a minimum of two years as a full-time teacher
  • Currently teaching full-time in a public school or ISBE recognized non-public school in Winnebago or Boone County
  • Employed in good standing within current school district
  • Maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA
  • Must have applied for admittance to Rockford University’s master’s program prior to application submission.
  • This is for a teacher’s FIRST master’s degree


  • Complete application packet and submit to the Golden Apple Foundation office by June 5, 2024.
  • Finalists will be contacted by June 19, 2024, and interviews scheduled.
  • Recipient will be announced by June 28, 2024.

The next opportunity to apply begins now! The 2024 recipient will begin as a student at Rockford University in the Fall of 2024.

Past Teacher Scholarship Recipients