Congratulations to Elm Place Special Education teacher Elizabeth Hodge, the 2015 winner of the Highland Park Golden Apple Award. Congratulations as well to Northwood teachers Suzanne Sosnowski and Bill Steinbach, who were finalists.
To the delight of her colleagues, students and parents, Elm Place special education teacher Elizabeth Hodge was surprised last Friday afternoon with the prestigious Highland Park Community Foundation (HPCF) Highland Park Golden Apple Award. She was presented with a Highland Park Golden Apple on a pedestal, a $2000 cash stipend, and a $500 gift certificate to the Apple store.
“Mrs. Hodge is a truly selfless and giving person with a deep love of teaching, and passion for her students. Her contagious positive attitude allows colleagues to respect and admire her talents and abilities. She provides students the opportunities to take risks and let the process lead them to joyful success. She has had a profound impact on students, a lasting influence on colleagues, and a true partnership with parents,” said HPCF Highland Park Golden Apple Committee Chair Sara Sher.
The HPCF Highland Park Golden Apple award is modeled after and conducted in cooperation with the Chicago-area nonprofit Golden Apple. In 2010, HPCF and a local family foundation initiated the local Highland Park Golden Apple Award to recognize outstanding teachers in the Highland Park school systems. By honoring an exceptional educator, the Foundation strives to demonstrate the strength and impact of excellent teaching in helping young people reach their potential. Nominees go through the same rigorous process to be selected.
The Highland Park Golden Apple Committee, comprised of retired exemplary educators and former Golden Apple award winners, selected Hodge through a rigorous process. Calls for nominations for middle school teachers were circulated in North Shore School District 112 last fall, and many deserving teachers were nominated. Three semifinalists were chosen from the group of nominees, and all were observed in their classrooms by a Golden Apple team.
The other two semifinalists–also outstanding teachers–were Northwood STEM teacher Bill Steinbach, and Northwood English teacher Suzanne Sosnowski. All three are exemplary and demonstrate the high quality of teaching that District 112 values as its most important resource, Sher said. “All three are deserving of the highest praise.”
Mrs. Hodge, Ms. Sosnowski and Mr.Steinbach were all honored at the May 19 Board of Education meeting, along with John Campbell, who earlier in the week learned he won the Chicagoland Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching.
“Bill Steinbach brings all the standards, resources, systems, practices, attitudes, and a diverse population of students together in a small space and have everyone learning and thinking to their potential,” Sher said. Bill goes way beyond and above and is awe-inspiring in his classroom and multiple extracurriculars like his robotics club. Bill answers the question “why?” with “why not?”.
“Suzanne Sosnowski builds warm and close relationships with many families but contends that her main goals for students are essential life skills: to develop their problem-solving ability, help them learn to communicate effectively, learn to collaborate with others, and become life-long learners,” Sher said. “Her impact on students is far-reaching across the entire school building and throughout the community.”
Ravinia teacher Sharon Steckel also told the board Tuesday night why she nominated John Campbell for the prestigious teaching award. “John has that rare, undeniable ability to spark curiosity and ignite the desire to learn. He connects with his students in such a way that enables them to achieve what they didn’t believe was possible. They’re composers and musicians and appreciate music for its diversity and complexity when they are with him,” she said.