Since 1997, the Golden Apple Foundation has grown from honoring teachers in one school district to honoring teachers, principals, and volunteers in more than 150 schools, both public and non-public, spanning Winnebago and Boone counties.

Inspiring Excellence

The Golden Apple Teacher Academy, made up of past Golden Apple Award recipients (alumni), mentors local teachers and educators through professional development programs and resources.

Celebrating Excellence

Through the Golden Apple Awards, Outstanding Principal Award and Jan Jones Service Award, we recognize influential community members making positive impacts in our schools and classrooms each and every day.

Supporting Excellence

Our Classroom Grants and Community Engagement programs enhance the collaborative partnerships between teachers, community volunteers and local businesses in order to strengthen our community’s educational system.

About Golden Apple Foundation

A volunteer-driven organization, the Golden Apple Foundation inspires, celebrates, and supports educational excellence. We serve the students and teachers in 150 public and private schools in Winnebago and Boone counties through classroom grants, awards, training, and community engagement. In 1997, the Rockford Public Schools Foundation merged with the Community Education Foundation to form the Golden Apple Foundation of Rockford. Local founders, Don Zimmerman and Dr. Richard Novak, took a common passion for education and turned it into a collective community effort by mobilizing volunteers to recognize excellence in teaching. Today, the Golden Apple Foundation continues its mission through four core programs: Awards & Recognition, Teacher Scholarships, Classroom Grants and Community Engagement. We operate entirely on the generous financial support of community businesses and individuals as well as the more than 400 volunteers who donate their time and effort to make our programs successful each year.

Meet Our Team

Jennifer Stark


Kathi Edwards


Executive Committee

Frank Walter


J. Earl Wilsey, Schmeling Construction


Katie Butchart, Associated Bank


Michelle Gorham, YMCA of RRV


Lynn Gibson



Katie Butchart, Associated Bank

Chris Davenport, CoyleKiley Insurance Agency Inc.

Gordon Eggers Jr.

Andrew Fisk, State’s Attorney’s Office, Winnebago County, IL

Lynn Gibson, Ed.D.

Nellie Miller, SupplyCore

John J. Morrissey, Morrissey Family Businesses

Dan Pickerill, Collins Aerospace

David Rydell, Bergstrom Inc.

Patty Stadelman, WTVO/WQRF

Brad Zimmerman, Zimmerman Home Builders/Gambino Realtors

Teacher Academy Representatives

Tiffany Aurand

Linda Julian

Emeritus Directors

Teresa J. Ingrassia

Dan Loescher

Richard Novak, M.D.

David Thompson

Don Zimmerman

R. Ray Wood