WEST ENGLEWOOD — For the second time in a week, an Englewood teacher was recognized as one of the top teachers in the nation.
"I had good teachers growing up, and I wanted students to experience what a difference it makes in your life when you have good teachers. That is why I became a teacher," said Copper, who lives in Calumet Heights on the South Side. "But this award is not just about me, but also the school, students and community. Hopefully, by me winning this award, it will show that despite all the negative things going on in Englewood, there are good teachers who work in the community."
Mayor Rahm Emanuel surprised Copper in her classroom Wednesday with news of the award.
"The entire city is proud of you," he told her. "You are doing great work here, and you are an example of what it means to be a good teacher."
Copper, a mother of two sons and a grandson, is the second teacher in Englewood this week to win the coveted award. On Monday, Katherine Dube, a reading teacher at Team Englewood High School, also won a Golden Apple.
Copper is also the second Lindblom teacher to win the award. A math teacher won in 2007, the first time the school received such recognition, Principal Alan Mathers said.
"Ms. Copper winning a Golden Apple brings recognition to what we do here at Lindblom," Mathers said. "And the amount of hard work she puts in with kids is unparalleled."
Joining the mayor at Lindblom was Dominic Belmonte, president and chief executive officer of the Golden Apple Foundation.
"This woman is doing a great job," Belmonte said. "We are thrilled to present these superb teachers from the Chicago area as emblematic of the thousands of devoted teachers who bring their students confidence and hope through their daily instruction."
Each year Belmonte's foundation receives thousands of nominations from students and teachers for its Golden Apple Award in teaching excellence, said Eileen Rochford, a foundation spokeswoman. Copper won $3,000 and the opportunity to study a semester next year at Northwestern University for free.
Scott Galson, a math teacher at Walter Payton College Prep, and Curt Ehrenstrom, who teaches at Mount Carmel High School, also were given Golden Apple awards this week.
Grateful is how Copper described herself to Mathers for keeping her on the job as a seasoned teacher.
"You know a lot of teachers with my experience have been squeezed out because [the school district says] we cost too much," said Copper, who earned a bachelor's in biology from the former Mundelein College and a master's in Public Health and Higher Education from the University of Illinois at Chicago. "Two teachers from Englewood winning a Golden Apple reaffirms all the hard work teachers in Englewood put in day after day."