WICKER PARK — Sarah Faller is used to thinking on her feet and rolling with flow: She does, after all, manage Burr Elementary's eighth-grade trip to Washington each year.
But Monday morning left her a little off center as she was announced a winner of one of this year's 10 Golden Apple awards given to exceptional teachers. With a camera in tow, a crew from Fox32 came to her classroom to surprise her.
"Really shocked" was how she described herself as the children in her classroom at Burr, 1621 W. Wabansia St. laughed.
Faller, who teaches literacy and social science to sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders, "treats her students with respect, empathy and attention," the Golden Apple organization said in a press release. She's known for getting to know every student in the school building and "Faller’s classes emphasize kindness and compassion," the release said.
"Faller’s unique gift is her ability to lead students to self-assess personal strengths and weaknesses and work toward growth," the release said. Faller championed the school’s “choose kindness, embrace diversity” campaign.
Faller credited "the support system I work with — the most amazing colleagues, a great administration, and honestly my kids are fantastic."
"I've been teaching in CPS for 10 years and this school is amazing, top-notch," she said.
Fox32's Jake Hamilton, on live television, asked some of her students about what makes their teacher so special.
Said one girl: "She cares for each one of us. She tries her best to make us feel welcome." Added another: "She's great not only as a teacher but as another person. If you need advice, she's always there for you."
Golden Apple is a nonprofit group "committed to celebrating and developing great teachers." Winners were nominated by students, parents and colleagues.