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She was one of some 650 Chicago-area teachers nominated for the award, winnowed down to 30 finalists. A kindergarten teacher at Evanston’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Literary and Fine Arts School, Kristen Mitchell, emerged Friday as one of the 10 to receive the coveted Golden Apple Award.

She learned of her success as she stepped into the auditorium of the school at 9 a.m. today to screams of “Surprise!” from the entire student body.

Also there to greet her were Evanston/Skokie School District 65 officials, headed by Superintendent Paul Goren, as well as members of her family, including her husband, Nick, and her parents, plus numerous members of the Chicago media, including Evanstonians Karen Jordan of  ABC 7 and Christian Farr of NBC 5, who happened to be  parents of one of Mitchell’s kindergarteners.

Mitchell with television news anchors Jordan and Farr

Golden Apple is a Chicago-based not-for-profit organization whose mission is to inspire, develop, and support teacher and school leader excellence in Illinois.

Each year it selects 10 local educators for the Golden Apple Award. Each winner receives a $5,000 honorarium plus a paid spring quarter sabbatical at Northwestern University.

Mitchell’s work has focused on implementing new ways to help close the achievement gap in her school as early as possible, according to Golden Apple officials.

They note that data has shown that once the learning deficit is established in younger grades, it becomes increasingly difficult to close as students progress through elementary school.

They took special note of her efforts to build relationships between her students.   Her class “peace table” is where students sit down together to resolve their differences. Classroom activities often require collaboration, such as puzzle solving, to foster teamwork and communication.

A 10-year veteran of the King Arts faculty, Mitchell has received acclaim from the parents of her students and fellow school educators who say she fosters a positive, calm environment where children love to learn every day.

Related story:

King Arts teacher a Golden Apple finalist

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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1 Comment

  1. Nice going Ms. Mitchell! We
    Nice going Ms. Mitchell! We all remember the impact that great teachers had on us and the memories last a lifetime.

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