2024 Golden Apple Finalists

Dr. Teresa Kruger

Dr. Teresa Kruger of Rockford teaches social studies at Belvidere North High School. She’s been there 22 of her 28 years of teaching. A nomination read that she “always implements quality strategies that consider all types of learners.  Dr. Kruger makes it a priority to show empathy and connects with students.” Though her classes contain some students with special needs, observers often could not tell. All were treated with the same quiet respect. Teresa says, “while my subject specialty is social studies, to me, teaching goes far beyond subject matter. It is about helping students find their voice, challenge their assumptions, and support them on their journey to becoming an adult.” She started Student Voice Club for students of all grades, ethnicities, genders and sexual identities to share perspectives about school culture and policies. The club held a drive with the League of Women Voters in which 95 students registered to vote! In one course, Teresa’s students are to create and implement a “positive change in the community.” Their efforts have included community clothing and hygiene drives. Teresa also led the charge to restructure the curriculum and participate in Global Scholars Certification. “Rather than teach a traditional, chronological curriculum, I led an initiative to focus on persistent themes of history … I wanted to immerse students in a more inclusive history where women, Native, African and Hispanic Americans were more than side notes.” And, after three years of communication with students and administrators and creating the course, her first students will complete it this year. This program allows Illinois school districts to award merit on school transcripts to students who demonstrate global competence through coursework, service learning, global collaboration and a project. Principal Jim Friesema wrote, “our students will interact with people throughout the world to solve a global issue.” A classroom observer noted students weren’t just learning history, but how we work with other countries. Teresa says lessons about history and current policies “prepare students for life skills they will need as an active, engaged citizen in our society.”