Janet Burke, a third grade teacher at Serena Hills School, will be honored Saturday as a finalist for the 2015 Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching.
Burke is one of 30 Golden Apple finalists from throughout the Chicago area. They will be recognized for their achievements as teachers at an April 11 Celebration of Excellence at the Chicago O’Hare arriott.
Burke is the only finalist from the south suburban area and was selected from a pool of more than 600 nominees.
Burke was nominated for her passion and dedication to teaching, according to a press release from Flossmoor School District 161. Serena Hills, located in Chicago Heights, is one of five District 161 schools.
Serena Hills Principal Shari Demitrowicz said Burke is a teacher leader and outstanding educator who sets high expectations and places students at the center of learning. She cognitively challenges students while instilling qualities of leadership, Demitrowicz said, adding that diversity is celebrated and embraced in Burke’s classroom.
“Her dedication and commitment to excellence continues to have a profound impact on producing lifelong learners,” Demitrowicz said.
The Golden Apple awards recognize and honor outstanding teachers for their role in building a stronger, better-educated society. Pre-kindergarten to third grade teachers throughout Chicago and the surrounding suburbs were nominated for the 2015 awards.
“Mrs. Burke by far has given new meaning to ‘enchantment’ as the classroom is transformed into a land of learning and inquiry,” the District 161 press release states. “The awe of discovery and the incredible excitement witnessed on the faces of the children each day is a sure indicator that she is making a memorable impact in the lives of her students and the entire learning community.”
The 30 Golden Apple finalists are undergoing a final round of review and classroom observations prior to the selection and announcement this spring of the 10 award recipients. Golden Apple’s award selection committee is comprised of college and university professors, administrators and former Golden Apple Award recipients.
Committee members utilize industry and research based professional standards to identify teachers who exemplify the best of the teaching profession. As part of the final selection process, the finalists are
observed in their classrooms and the selection committee conducts interviews with the teachers’ colleagues, supervisors, students and parents.
Each Golden Apple Award recipient receives a tuition-free, spring quarter sabbatical to study at Northwestern University. Each recipient also receives a $5,000 cash award. Award recipients also become Fellows of the Golden Apple Academy of Educators, giving them a stronger voice and a larger stage from which to make a difference in education within Illinois and nationally.