DuJardin technology coach wins Golden Apple teaching award
DuJardin technology coach surprised with Golden Apple teaching award
Every student remembers that one teacher who made all the difference.
Judging by the zealous students at Bloomingdale Elementary District 13's DuJardin Elementary School who cheered technology coach Jennifer Eggert when she stepped into the school gym last week to be presented with a Golden Apple award, she is one unforgettable teacher.
Eggert had been aware she was a finalist for the award -- an honor that occasions school visits, interviews with colleagues and classroom observations conducted by members of the nonprofit Golden Apple Foundation -- she did not yet know she was one of 10 winners of the prestigious Illinois educators award, chosen from a field of 600 nominees.
Eggert reacted with emotion, shedding joyful tears and smiling when the entire student body at the kindergarten-through-fifth-grade school shouted "Surprise!" in unison and began applauding.
Eggert immediately walked into the crowd of students seated on the gym floor where she was encircled by students offering hugs, chanting "Mrs. E" and hoisting signs that read "#TeachGolden."
Eggert's family members, district school officials and Golden Apple staff joined the students to greet Eggert with a gift basket, gold and black star-shaped balloons and congratulatory remarks.
Her husband, Ross, said he'd been informed a day earlier that she had won, but he successfully kept the secret.
"This morning was crazy," he said. "She kept looking at me, asking, 'Do you know?' It was really hard to keep a straight face."
The Golden Apple award program was established in 1986 as a way to recognize teaching excellence.
"It's a very prestigious award and she's a winner for being a great teacher," Principal Mark Dwyer said. "They say Golden Apple teachers come from Golden Apple schools. I think we have all won the Golden Apple today."
Eggert's award marks the first Golden Apple awarded to a DuJardin teacher.
"Around the Chicago area there are 115,000 teachers. Each year, our organization tries to find, among those thousands, 10 who we can say to the world, 'Here's a great teacher.' In this little part of Illinois, in this little city, a great teacher works on behalf of you," Golden Apple CEO Dominic Belmonte told the students.
Belmonte said a camera crew from WTTW Channel 11 soon will visit DuJardin to film footage for a program about the Golden Apple awards to air in May.
Eggert is in her third year as the school's technology coach, a role that includes assisting students, faculty and staff.
"She makes all of you the best at what you do, whether that's leading in the classroom or learning in the classroom," Superintendent Jon Bartelt said.
Ten-year-old Mary Frattinger, a fourth-grader, nominated Eggert for the award.
"She's such a kind, loving, generous teacher who helps every student out," Mary said, as she and her mother, Angel, awaited Eggert's appearance in the gym.
Later, Mary and her mother together gave a short speech, taking turns delivering lines.
"Mrs. Eggert is a positive teacher who spreads happiness wherever she goes. It's contagious!" Mary read. "Mrs. Eggert always makes learning fun. She believes in our individual talent so much that it teaches us to stand up and be bold."
"She coaches without judgment and sets high expectations," Angel read. "She listens to our outlandish visions and makes them possible."
"Someone who does good should be recognized, and that's what we're doing right now," fifth-grader Ethan Su told the crowd.
Because Eggert is known for wearing neon-colored plastic glasses with no lenses, each student donned a similar pair in tribute.
Several students also showed off some of the technological lessons they've learned.
Fifth-grader Jayden Patel presented a slideshow he and another student produced showcasing reasons Eggert is a popular teacher. Highlights included the availability of technology tools such as computers and tablets and the school's tech club.
Another group of students created a video that featured students talking about why they appreciate Eggert's teaching ability, a piece that comically included a "blooper reel."
Students in the video said Eggert is patient, kind and "super energetic."
As a Golden Apple award recipient, Eggert will receive a tuition-free sabbatical next spring to study at Northwestern University. She also will receive a $5,000 cash award to fund a school project of her choosing.
The award presentation was shown on Facebook Live. Additional details about the event and the Golden Apple program are available on social media, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Flickr.
After the students gave her a standing ovation, shouting, "You rock!," Eggert finally addressed the assembly.
"Thank you guys so much. This is so not my award, this is our award," she said. "I'm so proud of all you guys. You are the best in world."