2024 Golden Apple Award Recipients, 2024 Golden Apple Finalists, Golden Apple News

Yuritza Moctezuma

Yuri Moctezuma of Rockford has been teaching social studies at Belvidere South Middle School the past 2 of her 10 years teaching. A parent survey highlighted Yuri’s connections with students. Principal Ben Commare says she “embodies the essence of an extraordinary educator, creating an engaging and inclusive learning atmosphere.” In another letter of recommendation, a district instructional coach and former student’s mother remarked that “she collaborates with other teachers to support students’ reading, writing and executive functioning skills in addition to her social studies curriculum. This truly shows that she considers the whole child, not just the child that is in her classroom once a day.” Yuri not only collaborates with families and peers to bring best outcomes for her students, but she also encourages students to help each other. One classroom observer liked seeing that “students who already spoke in English and Spanish were encouraged to help those who understand only Spanish. This is Yuri’s goal.” Several observers were impressed with how she smoothly transitions back and forth from Spanish to English. Principal Commare shared that a “defining attribute of Yuri’s is her unwavering commitment to bilingual education. She adeptly navigates between languages, creating a dynamic and immersive educational experience. Her seamless integration of language learning with subject matter nurtures linguistic proficiency and cultivates cultural understanding and appreciation.” One observer noted that Yuri’s classroom felt “conducive to learning regardless of first language.” She provides students with non-stop feedback and connects with each one, differentiating questions and resources to meet each need. Students respond to questions with a “think, pair, share” technique keeping them engaged and interacting with group members. A retired teacher who observed Yuri wrote she, “possesses that super power that makes a good teacher a great one: she has tremendous classroom presence. Her positive, active, animated teaching style and behavior compels one’s attention.” Another summarized her observation “watching her work her magic”: Yuri “has FLOW.”