Judith Tyler, a biology teacher at Maine East High School in suburban Park Ridge, wore her pajamas to school Monday for Spirit Week — little she knew that she would be getting a prestigious award on the same day.
Tyler is one of 10 high school teachers across Illinois being surprised this week with the Golden Apple Award for excellence in the classroom.
On Monday, three teachers from different schools, including Tyler, received the big news. The other seven will be announced throughout the week.
Tyler was overwhelmed when dozens of students, parents and colleagues crowded around to congratulate her.
“I just became so passionate about this job; it’s so important,” said Tyler, who has been a teacher at Maine East for 30 years. “When you keep in touch with your students the way I have … you start to realize how important it is to stop what you are doing and give them your undivided attention.”
Jill Patel is one of Tyler’s current students. “She changed the way we view learning as a whole,” Jill said. “It’s not just about memorization. [It’s] about learning the content and understanding it all.”
This year, Golden Apple organization allowed nominations from all areas in Illinois. Previously, it was only only open to educators in Cook and the collar counties. This year, 550 nominations came in from 71 Illinois counties. .
“We believe that recognizing exemplary educators helps to elevate the teaching profession to its rightful place of honor,” Alicia Winckler, CEO of Golden Apple, said in a statement. “Golden Apple is inspired by the high standards set by these outstanding educators.”
Golden Apple winners receive a $5,000 award and a sabbatical next spring at Northwestern University.