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Get to Know Our 2022 Finalists: Hayley Gotzsche Get to Know Our 2022 Finalists: Hayley Gotzsche Hayley Gotzsche of Roscoe has been a teacher for eight years,... More detail
Get to Know Our 2022 Finalists: Heather Plourde Get to Know Our 2022 Finalists: Heather Plourde Heather Plourde of Rockton has been teaching for 17 years,... More detail
Twenty Teachers Named Finalists for 2022 Golden Apple Awards! Twenty Teachers Named Finalists for 2022 Golden Apple Awards! Executive Director Jennifer Stark joined the Morning Crew at... More detail
Golden Apple Foundation Awards $23,500 for Local Classroom Projects Golden Apple Foundation Awards $23,500 for Local Classroom Projects   Golden Apple Foundation is pleased to announce the selection... More detail
Support Golden Apple & Local Businesses - Give the Gift of a City Tin Support Golden Apple & Local Businesses - Give the Gift of a City Tin Golden Apple Foundation of Rockford has partnered with City Tins... More detail
CONGRATULATIONS GOLDEN APPLE TEACHER NOMINEES! CONGRATULATIONS GOLDEN APPLE TEACHER NOMINEES! During the past month, parents, students and community members... More detail
Teachers: Apply for Grants Now! Teachers: Apply for Grants Now!    PreK-12th grade teachers of Winnebago and Boone... More detail
Nominate an excellent teacher who is making a difference! Nominate an excellent teacher who is making a difference!   This year, Golden Apple Foundation will award teachers... More detail
Seeking Volunteers to Help Thank Teachers Seeking Volunteers to Help Thank Teachers Golden Apple Foundation volunteers will be delivering more... More detail
GOLDEN APPLE CELEBRITY BARTENDING ON AUG. 10 GOLDEN APPLE CELEBRITY BARTENDING ON AUG. 10 Golden Apple Foundation is holding a Celebrity Bartender fundraising... More detail
You are Invited to Watch the 2021 Banquet Online! You are Invited to Watch the 2021 Banquet Online! The 2021 Excellence in Education Banquet was held on June 14... More detail
Full-Tuition Scholarship Opportunity for Local Teachers! Full-Tuition Scholarship Opportunity for Local Teachers! Teachers, here's your opportunity to earn a full scholarship... More detail
Excellence in Education Banquet Excellence in Education Banquet   Golden Apple Foundation is excited to announce the upcoming... More detail
Thank You Teachers! Thank You Teachers! Golden Apple Foundation salutes teachers during Teacher Appreciation... More detail
Kristina Puzin is the 815 Rising Star! Kristina Puzin is the 815 Rising Star!   Golden Apple Foundation is pleased to present Kristina... More detail
815 RISING STARS - LAST DAY TO VOTE! 815 RISING STARS - LAST DAY TO VOTE! Congratulations 815 Rising Stars! We are in the last stretch,... More detail
HURRY GET YOUR VOTES IN! HURRY GET YOUR VOTES IN!     Congratulations 815 Rising Stars, the voting... More detail
815 RISING STARS VOTE UPDATE 815 RISING STARS VOTE UPDATE   Congratulations to the 815 Rising Stars!... More detail
815 RISING STARS TALENT SHOW 815 RISING STARS TALENT SHOW The FREE VIRTUAL815 Rising Stars talent show is premiering... More detail
CONGRATS TO THE 815 RISING STARS CONGRATS TO THE 815 RISING STARS   Over 120 videos were submitted to Golden Apple Foundation... More detail
TALENT ANNOUNCEMENT MONDAY TALENT ANNOUNCEMENT MONDAY The announcments are coming SOON! The committee is hard at... More detail
Cookie Kit Sale Cookie Kit Sale Golden Apple Foundation and your local Cookies By Design are... More detail
SHINE THE LIGHT ON YOUR TALENT! SHINE THE LIGHT ON YOUR TALENT!     Golden Apple Foundation is putting out a call... More detail
Pre-Register for Driven to Give Dec. 16 Pre-Register for Driven to Give Dec. 16   No cost to you, but BIG rewards for Golden Apple Foundation.... More detail
MAKE A DONATION TODAY! MAKE A DONATION TODAY! Make a secure donation by clicking here on Giving Tuesday,... More detail


East1Kathryn Linden
East High School, Rockford
9th Grade Honors English

M.A., Education, Curriculum & Instruction-Northern Illinois University
B.A., Elementary Education, Illinois State University

“I was young, but I remember feeling like a teacher. I didn't really have students. Stuffed animals didn't sit up too well, and oftentimes my dolls would lay back and their eyes would close. But I remember knowing exactly what kind of teacher I wanted to be...I wanted to be a teacher whose room was occupied with eager learners.”

Golden Apple teacher Kathryn Linden lives her childhood wish each day, and the students she once only imagined now fill the desks in her Honors English classes.

Considered a mentor to her colleagues, Katy is often solicited for her presentations on classroom management techniques, differentiated reading strategies and district writing expectations programs to teams of teachers during In-Service and Institute days. In her classroom, she utilizes contemporary offerings from her library of books, newspapers and magazines for both genders, and for a variety of ages and comprehension levels, to complement her teaching style.

Katy believes that “behind great students are great parents” and often invites them into the classroom to share the results of particular assignments. Her conviction is that a partnership among parents, teachers and administrators, which shares the same value for student achievement, will lead to academic success.

“My students inspire me to continuously educate myself,” says Ms. Linden, “so that I can not only provide challenging instruction, but also build rigorous lessons promoting their success. In return, student achievement is mastered. These moments are no longer in my dreams. They are now feats that I cherish and embrace.”

Guilf4Michael A. Lantz
Guilford High School, Rockford
World Geography/World History/Economics/Government

M.A., Secondary Education, Grand Canyon University
B.S., History, Illinois State University
Special Education Certification, Northern Illinois University

To help teach his World Geography students about poverty and lack of educational opportunities faced by many young people in other countries, Golden Apple teacher Michael Lantz once removed all the desks from his classroom and had students spend the entire period on the floor.

“They were uncomfortable, they were distracted, and they struggled to keep focused. They learned a great lesson.”

Exploring, recognizing, understanding and appreciating diversity in our world are major focuses of Mike's World Geography class. He likens his classroom to the world – full of people coming from different backgrounds, income and ability levels, and home situations, noting that “diversity is a fact of life and must be addressed, understood and celebrated when possible.” In the classroom, his teaching style varies from lectures to activities and service learning, and he heartily encourages students to take lessons home and involve their parents/guardians in shared special experiences, such as trying new foods and listening to the music of other cultures in our world.

Mike is recognized by colleagues and students alike for his extracurricular involvement, including the school's annual talent show which raises funds for additional student activities and learning experiences. Too, he's just completed his third year as head coach of the Viking's freshman football team.

Of his teaching style, Mr. Lantz says, “I make special efforts to be creative, foster an atmosphere in which learning together is fun, and remain firm in my commitment to ensure that students learn about themselves as well as how the world works around them.”

0-Luth3Bethany Pitman
Rockford Lutheran Jr/Sr High School-Rockford
8th & 10th grade English
B.A. Education—Concordia University, Nebraska

Comparing Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 to football and having a “spa day” to do a paper “makeover” are exemplary of daily studies in Bethany’s class. A simulation game on an island presenting team struggles is part of the Lord of the Flies study. While reading The Hunger Games, Pitman’s students experienced survival techniques, and then attended the opening midnight show together. In mythology study, Bethany teaches collaboratively with science teachers. Such is the stuff of Bethany’s English classes, based on her extensive study of Nancy Atwell’s interactive Reading/Writing Workshop and Lemov’s Teach Like a Champion.

According to her principal, “Mrs. Pitman . . . shares her contagious passion for reading and writing. . .by developing students’ academic knowledge and changing their lives through the gift of language. Through her student-lead one-on-one methods, Pitman engages the hearts of the students while shaping their character. . .with strong self-discipline and engaged critical thinking.” A parent writes, “My daughter learned to voice her opinion. . . in a classroom where the pace is fast, reading is abundant, and participation is mandatory.”

Selected Rotary Teacher of the Year in 2011, Bethany also heads the English department, mentoring new and experienced teachers alike. She schedules weekend writing workshops for seniors, coaches volleyball, tutors at-risk children for Upward Bound, and established Poetry Café for students and their parents.

reintsJilian Reints
Belvidere High School & Belvidere North High School-Belvidere

M.S. Art Education—Northern Illinois University
B.S. Art Education—Northern Illinois University
A.A. Art Education—Joliet Junior College

Art relates to everything in life, and Jilian guides her students to experience awareness through drawing, painting, photography, and computer art, all life skills. Her classroom is “an inviting climate made beautiful by displays of student work and murals in the hallways” where students of all talent levels feel at home in her classroom. Jilian instructs a range of students from those who are experiencing art for the first time to those establishing a competitive portfolio. She exhibits deep compassion for her students, and uses art for therapy when a student is grieving. She embodies a “talent that is always growing, giving, and creating”. She stays current with artists, trends, sub-cultures, and styles, on which her students base their life stories told in an art medium.

“I lead my students to understand that the things we see are designed to achieve a special effect, . . .that they can be moved by art. . . to take a stand, get angry, or get involved.” Student projects are deeply seeded in thought process, and student-lead critiques are a regular exercise. Ms. Reints plans collaborative teaching, merging art with other disciplines likegeometry, weaving math concepts into the structure for subjective interpretation. Jilian’s students are active in global causes, one of which is to restore photographs for families who felt the loss during Hurricane Sandy.
A frequent speaker at professional conferences, Jilian also exhibited at the Art Institute of Schaumberg Educator Art Show, Brick Gallery, and Rockford Art Museum’s Midwest Art Show, to name a few.

winebrennerMichael D. Winebrenner
North Boone Middle School, Poplar Grove
8th Grade Social Studies

M.A., Curriculum, National-Louis University
B.S., History, Northern Illinois University

“I begin each day with the same goals: To be an effective teacher and have a positive impact on those around me that particular day, including teachers, administrators, parents...and especially my students.”

Whether it's in his Social Studies classes or on the track field, Golden Apple teacher Michael Winebrenner credits organization through thoughtful, well-planned lessons and activities for increasing the potential for student learning and more enjoyable teaching. His designs for student-oriented and differentiated lessons, cooperative learning techniques and a classroom environment that encourages risk-taking, all challenge his students to reach high standards and expectations.

“My students need to know that I'm not just there to teach facts. I desire to be a mentor, a source of support, to teach them life skills and to teach them the meaning of integrity.”

Family involvement in all aspects of his students' education is important to Mike. Invitations are often extended to parents/guardians to join in on school field trips and special classroom activities, and to participate in other family-friendly community events where Mike is a frequent volunteer.

Electronic technology is embraced by Mike who encourages its use by his students, and offers presentations to staff on its capabilities as well. He is a life-long learner and continues to take advantage of information opportunities to improve his teaching methods.

“I am committed to be an advocate for young adults,” say Mr. Winebrenner, “because I believe there is no other time in a person's life when it is so vital to receive love, support, recognition and discipline.”


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