Special education teacher Danya Greenberg of Rockland School in Libertyville Elementary District 70 has been named to the top 32 finalists for the prestigious 2012 Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Greenberg, 24, was selected from a pool of 265 applicants and 560 nominations of kindergarten through third-grade teachers in the Chicago metropolitan area. For 27 years, the Golden Apple Awards have recognized and honored outstanding teachers for their role in building a stronger, better-educated society.
With only two and a half years of professional teaching, Greenberg is one of the youngest Golden Apple Award finalists named.
"Most children dream of getting an Academy Award, but growing up in a home with a mom as an educator, I used to dream of being honored with a Golden Apple Award," Greenberg said. "My mom would read off the names of the Golden Apple recipients in the paper each year."
Marilynn Menuey, director of special education for District 70, says Greenberg creates an environment that nurtures student growth and allows children to take pride in their accomplishments.
The Golden Apple selection committee is comprised of prominent retired teachers, college and university professors, administrators and former Golden Apple Award recipients.
According to the committee, Greenberg "believes all children can learn, no matter what. She believes learning is invigorating, and it's a teacher's job to make it inspiring and attractive to students.
"Danya uses the backward design approach. She decides first what she wants her students to be able to do as a result of her lessons. Her first-, second- and third-grade special education students role play in the classroom, learn songs that boost the understanding of various concepts and use iPad apps to enhance the lesson."
As a finalist, Greenberg will participate in a final round of review and be observed in her classroom before the 10 award recipients are named in May. Her colleagues, supervisors, students and parents also are subject to be interviewed in the process.
The 10 finalists receive a tuition-free spring semester sabbatical to study at Northwestern University and a $3,000 cash reward. They also become Fellows of the Golden Apple Academy of Educators.
Greenberg began her teaching career with District 70 after graduating from Indiana University with a bachelor of science degree in elementary education and special education.
Greenberg expects to graduate in July from Concordia University, River Forest, with a master's degree in School Administration and Leadership.
She was given the Indiana Association of Colleges for Teacher Education "Outstanding Future Educator Award" in April 2009 and received the Indiana Reading Professors Council of the Indiana State Reading Association "Outstanding Future Reading Teacher" award in March 2008.