Highland Park High teachers awarded Golden Apples

The Highland Park Community Foundation has recognized three Highland Park High School teachers with 2020 HPCF Golden Apple Awards. This year's honorees are HPHS band director Josh Chodoroff, Spanish teacher Nairy Hagopian and special education essentials teacher Katrina Tolemy.

"The Highland Park Community Foundation is privileged to honor Josh, Nairy and Katrina as the HPCF's 2020 Golden Apple recipients," HPCF Golden Apple selection committee chair Sara Sher said.

"We want to recognize these exemplary teachers for the valuable work they do every day on behalf of the children in our community. The Highland Park Community Foundation celebrates these extraordinary individuals for their positive impact and their teaching in both the classroom and the virtual world."

In 2010, the Highland Park Community Foundation worked with a local family foundation to launch the annual HPCF Golden Apple Award to recognize outstanding teachers in the Highland Park School systems.

HPCF past-chairman and board member Andy Livingston initiated the award. He brought the idea of an honorary award to the HPCF board to celebrate outstanding teachers in the Highland Park community. Under his leadership, the HPCF Golden Apple Award became a signature program of the foundation.

A longtime supporter of the foundation, Livingston first joined the HPCF Board in 2004. He served as vice chairman from 2006-09 and then led the foundation as chairman for three years.

He remained a board member until 2015 and then served as a member of the HPCF Advisory Board until his passing. Livingston's wife, Anne, was a special guest in attendance at this year's 2020 Golden Apple Award presentation.

HPCF Golden Apple Award nominations are made in a rotating cycle: K-5, 6-8, and 9-12. A selection committee, comprised of exemplary current and retired educators and administrators and former award recipients, evaluate the applications, and complete a full day of observation.

A final recipient of the award is then chosen based on instruction, content knowledge, student and staff interaction, and contribution to school and community.

When the 2019-20 school year was disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak, the committee was unable to complete the full-day observations and select a final recipient. Given the outstanding applications and recommendations each finalist had received, the committee and HPCF board decided to honor all three finalists.

They did so on Sept. 30 at a socially distanced and masked presentation on the front steps of Highland Park High School. By honoring these exceptional educators, the foundation hopes to demonstrate the strength and importance of excellent teaching in helping young people reach their potential.

For more information on the Golden Apple Award, visit

To learn more about the Highland Park Community Foundation, visit

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