Kindergarten teacher Meghan Rice at Willard Elementary School in Evanston today was announced as a Golden Apple Award winner, one of 10 teachers across the state receiving the award for excellence in teaching.

The Golden Apple Foundation says 708 Pre-K through 3rd grade teachers were nominated for this year’s awards.

“These outstanding teachers transform the lives of students, schools, and communities over the course of their careers. Their resilience and perseverance in this past year–and their career–-has been nothing short of amazing,” said Golden Apple President Alan Mather. “Our 2021 award recipients will now join us in our mission to impact the lives of even more students by supporting the next generation of highly effective teachers through our two teacher preparation programs – the Golden Apple Scholars and Accelerators programs.”

The Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching honor outstanding teachers for having lasting, positive effects on students’ lives and school communities. Teacher recipients demonstrate – in their teaching and results – significant, positive impact on their students’ growth and learning.

The foundation says Rice builds a classroom of respect and inclusion and looks for ways to expand her capacity as an educator to support and uplift the livelihood of the children and families that she serves. To ignite student interest, she shares a connection to bridge their previous learning or lived experiences. For example, her students relate to the classroom mascot Mabel the Elephant and she’ll use Mabel in an example to share a teaching point – using words, gestures, and visual charts.

Rice worked to ensure her school’s literacy curriculum was culturally responsive and relied on that framework to build a system to support both monolingual and bilingual K-2 teachers, especially with the shift to remote learning during the pandemic.

Each award recipient receives a $5,000 cash award and a spring sabbatical provided by Northwestern University at no cost. Award recipients also become Fellows of the Golden Apple Academy of Educators, a community of educators who play an important role in preparing the next generation of teachers in the Golden Apple Scholars and Accelerators programs — which are dedicated to addressing the teacher shortage in Illinois.

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