The 32 finalists for the 2012 Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching have been announced.
The finalists, selected from a pool of 265 applicants and 560 nominations represent kindergarten-through-third grade teachers throughout the Chicago metropolitan area.
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Since 1986, Golden Apple has recognized outstanding teachers throughout Illinois each year.
The finalists include six who teach in Lake County. They are:
•Monica Biegel: kindergarten, Braeside Elementary School, Highland Park.
•Danya Greenberg: special education/first-third grades, Rockland Elementary School, Libertyville.
•Maria del Rosario Hempen: music/pre-k-second grade, Lake Forest Country Day School, Lake Forest.
•Judy Hilary Kim: dual language/second grade, Oak Terrace Elementary School, Highwood.
•David Meekhof: second grade, Wayne Thomas Elementary School, Highland Park.
•Lindsey Ryan Petlak: second grade, Indian Trail Elementary School, Highland Park.
Created by founders Mike and Pat Koldyke, the awards aim to recognize and honor outstanding teachers for their role to building a stronger, better-educated society.
The 32 finalists will participate in a final round of review and observations prior to the announcement of the 10 recipients in May.
"Once again, we are amazed and motivated by the contributions that the 2012 finalists make toward the teaching profession," said Dominic Belmonte, president and CEO of Golden Apple.
Golden Apple Award nominations are accepted June 1 on the Golden Apple website, www.goldenapple.org. The nominations can be made by anyone, but teachers may not nominate themselves.
Eligible teachers must be full-time classroom teachers at public or nonpublic schools within Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake or Will counties and committed to continue teaching in Illinois for two subsequent years.
The Golden Apple Awards concentrate on a specific group of grade levels each year including pre-K, 3, 4-8 and 9-12. In 2011, the focus was on fourth- through eighth-grade teachers.
The selection committee is comprised of prominent retired teachers, college and university professors, administrators and former award recipients.
Committee members implement industry- and research-based professional standards in their selection process.
The goal is to identify those teachers who exemplify the highest standards and practices of the teaching profession.
As part of the process, the finalists are observed in their classrooms and the selection committee conducts interviews with the teachers' colleagues, supervisors, students and parents. Each Golden Apple Award recipient receives a tuition-free, spring semester sabbatical to study at Northwestern University. Each recipient receives a $3,000 cash award. Award recipients also become Fellows of the Golden Apple Academy of Educators, giving them a stronger voice and a larger stage from which to make a difference.