Good News Sunday: Two suburban teachers named Golden Apple Award winners

This is Good News Sunday, a compilation of some of the more upbeat and inspiring stories recently published by the Daily Herald:

Overwhelmed was the word of the day for a pair of suburban educators who learned Monday that they’re among the winners of 2024 Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching.

As part of the Golden Apple tradition, Julianne Collier of Stevenson Elementary School in Elk Grove Village and Aimee Legatzke of Fox Meadow Elementary in South Elgin were surprised with the news at separate school assemblies attended by their students, colleagues, friends and families.

“I am so overwhelmed with gratitude,” Collier said Monday morning after tearfully embracing those who came to congratulate her. “I can’t thank everyone enough.”

“Oh my gosh, thank you so much everybody. I’m like shaking,” Legatzke later said between exuberant hugs at Fox Meadow. “I am so honored and so overwhelmed.”

As Golden Apple winners, each becomes a Fellow of the Golden Apple Academy of Educators and receives a $5,000 cash award and a spring sabbatical provided by Northwestern University. They are among 10 statewide winners, chosen from more than 600 nominations of prekindergarten through third grade teachers in Illinois.

For the full story, click here.

Noel Hoekstra, a longtime volunteer for Poised For Success, with some of the many business suits available. Volunteers help clients pick out the right outfit for a job interview. Courtesy of Poised For Success

Lombard nonprofit outfits women in need of business attire

When you look good, you feel good. Poised For Success in Lombard wholeheartedly believes in that adage.

The nonprofit social service agency offers business appropriate attire for women through an agency referral program. Seen by appointment, shop volunteers help women who are looking for a hand up find just the right outfit and accessories that will give them the confidence boost they need to go out and find a job to become self-sufficient.

“At Poised For Success, our focus extends beyond clothing; we're dedicated to nurturing self-worth and confidence,” said Gail Foster, executive director.

With its new space at 55 W. 22nd St., Suite 112, in Lombard, Foster and volunteers help women choose from an assortment of pants, dresses, skirts, suits, blouses, shoes, purses, scarves and jewelry.

“Our space isn’t merely a collection of clothes; it’s a sanctuary overflowing with warmth, encouragement and positivity,” Foster said.

For the full story, click here.

  JCC Chicago has operated Elaine Frank Apachi day camp near Long Grove since 2008. In 2023, Sunrise Day Camp for kids with cancer was opened and shares the campus. Camp director Karen Abrams and Jennifer Zizlis, director of operations, check out one of the four yurts, which are new this season. John Starks/

Sunrise day camp lets children with cancer do kid things

About this time every year, preparations intensify for the pending arrival of hundreds of kids who will attend the eight-week summer session at Elaine Frank Apachi Day Camp on Old McHenry Road near Long Grove.

Since it opened in 2008 on a serene 38 acres surrounded by protected wetlands, the campus operated by JCC Chicago has grown to become a full-service center including a variety of offerings and activities.

That's the case this year, too, although the anticipation has upped a notch for what that will mean for a special group of campers attending Sunrise Day Camp, which shares the campus. This will be the second year of Sunrise, which runs in tandem with Apachi and is offered at no charge to kids with cancer and their siblings ages 3½ to 16.

It's a place where, for awhile, treatments, doctors’ offices and hospital rooms can be forgotten and kids can just be kids.

“Sunrise campers can come as many days as their treatment allows,” said Director Karen Abrams. “We try to make every day the best day.”

For the full story, click here.

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