ENGLEWOOD —Team Englewood High School reading teacher Katherine Dube got the surprise of her life Monday when Gov. Pat Quinn visited the South Side school to congratulate her on being selected as a 2013 Golden Apple Award winner.
“Ms. Dube and all of our Golden Apple Award recipients represent the best of the best throughout the entire state of Illinois,” said Quinn at a Monday news conference. “These inspiring teachers spend countless hours, both in and out of the classroom, helping to shape our students into the leaders of tomorrow.
"It is an honor to recognize our teachers today, and every day, for their creativity, commitment and service to the young people of our state.”
Each year the Golden Apple Foundation receives thousands of nominations from students and teachers for its Golden Apple Award in teaching excellence, said Eileen Rochford, a spokeswoman for the Golden Apple Foundation. The names of the remaining winners will be made public by Friday, according to Rochford.
Dube "was the first teacher surprised, so we have nine more to go before we announce the entire list," Rochford said. "All of the winners this year are high-school teachers. In 2014, Golden Apple winners with be fourth- through eighth-grade teachers, and in 2015 it's pre-K (kindergarten) to third grade."
Each Golden Apple Award recipient will receive a $3,000 cash prize and the opportunity to study a semester next year at Northwestern University for free.
For Dube, a teacher for six years including the last three at Team Englewood, winning the ward assures her she made the right decision to become an educator.
"Originally when I went to college I wanted to be a TV journalist but that changed in graduate school when I taught writing to high school students," recalled the wife and mother of one son. "I love to write but once I saw what a difference I made in children's lives teaching them, that's when I knew I wanted to be a teacher instead."
Dube earned a bachelor's in English from the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va. and a master's in English from the University of New Hampshire.
One of the challenges of Dube's job is getting students who lack fundamental reading skills up to speed, she said.
"Some students are harder than others to engage but I enjoy the effort," added Dube, who lives in Hyde Park. "But that challenge is balanced out when I see them improve and get excited about learning. That makes everything I do well worth it."
Matt Heller, principal of Team Englewood, is happy to see the word finally getting out about the good teachers at his school.
"We have a lot of wonderful teachers here and we do a lot of wondering things but not everyone knows this," Heller said. "I knew when I nominated Mrs. Heller that she was a winner."