2023 Golden Apple Award Finalists

Whitney Mohr

Whitney Mohr of Machesney Park has been teaching for 27 years, the past four in a 2nd through 5th grade self-contained class for children with moderate to severe intellectual disabilities at Rockford’s Rolling Green. In her essay, she wrote that, “so many days, they teach me patience, resolve and hope – they come to school every day, working on learning skills that have eluded them for years – that’s dedication to learning. My goal is always to live up to what they need and deserve.” Speech-language pathologist Amanda Nedved, who works with Whitney and her students daily, says, “the excitement she shows when a student reaches a new milestone or when introducing new topics is infectious. Students love her. Paraprofessionals beg to work with her. She brings joy to the classroom and it is noticed by everyone around her.” Whitney’s students and the lessons she provides them are wide-ranging. Some are beginning readers learning reading, writing and math. Others need to learn functional life skills such as brushing teeth and washing face or picking up items from the floor. And some students are focusing on basic life function activities such as breathing and swallowing. Observers praised Whitney for including all students. They noted that students were excited to learn and participate. Principal Amy Powell wrote, “In her classroom, you will find a room full of love, acceptance, patience, support and laughter. She has created a classroom where students can thrive, even while overcoming the greatest of life’s challenges. To simply define her, she is limitless. When I define Whitney as “limitless,” it is not just her who is limitless, rather it is her belief in others that makes them feel limitless too.”