ROCKFORD (WREX) -
Five area teachers receive the prestigious Golden Apple Awards that are given by representatives from the Golden Apple Foundation of Rockford.
Laurie Mayer — Willowbrook Middle School
Mayer teaches literature and Spanish at Willowbrook Middle School in South Beloit. She has 6 years of experience.
"Laurie Mayer is a wonderful teacher who shines brightly in many ways. Teachers are hired to teach, but Laurie goes above and beyond any expectations. She loves her students. The Golden Apple Award was created for teachers like her."
Mayer comes from a family of teaching excellence, according to the Golden Apple Foundation. Both Mayer and her mother Debbie Lecuyer of Kinnikinnick Elementary School are Golden Apple Teachers, as Lecuyer received her award in 2012.
Rohini Gupta — Harlem High School
Gupta teaches 12th grade mathematics at Harlem High School in Machesney Park. She 22 years of experience.
"...her ability to treat students in a firm, fair and consistent manner has impressed me in dealing with a variety of students. She has consistently gone above and beyond both inside and outside of the classroom in an effort to help her students reach their unlimited potential. Rohini not only reaches those students who excel in math or are in her AP classes, but is also able to reach those students who struggle to give them the tools to be successful in her class and what is beyond her classroom. On any given day, Rohini can be seen giving up her lunch or planning to help students who are struggling."
Gupta has taught math on two continents and currently also teaches math part-time at Rock Valley College.
Rebecca Downing Pelley — Boylan Catholic High School
Downing Pelley teaches art at Boylan Catholic High School in Rockford. She has 44 years of experience.
"Rebecca Pelley is a teacher with a mission. She is raising serious artists who have either found their calling as artists, chosen to immerse themselves in the appreciation of culture and beauty, or commit to the level of intellectual challenge and curiosity that is demanded in Mrs. Pelley's presence. She sees nothing but infinite potential in every student and expects nothing less than 110 percent as she invests the same in every young person who sits in her classroom. She was instrumental in bringing an Advanced Placement Studio Art curriculum to Guilford High School during her tenure there. In my 33 years as a high school art teacher, I can honestly say that Rebecca Downing Pelley is the most devoted, competent and creative teacher I have every met. Throughout her 44 years of teaching, Rebecca's leadership has motivated and impacted over 5,000 students."
Downing Pelley received the 2011 Mayor's Art Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Rockford Area Arts Council, which is among many other awards she has received for her artistic talent and her skill in teaching.
Amy Orvis — Montessori at Thurgood Marshall School
Orvis teaches seventh and eighth grade social studies and language arts at Thurgood Marshall School in Rockford. She has 22 years of experience.
"I have come to know Amy as a teacher who addresses diversity through an extensive collection of literature that she makes available to her students. I visited her class when it was my privilege to deliver the Obama Classroom Library Award that she had won. Each student had a personal subset of books, sort of individual libraries, which came from the larger classroom library.
Orvis spearheaded a middle school project to raise $10,000 to build a school for girls in Kenya.
James Schoepski — Belvidere High School
Schoepski teaches social studies at Belvidere High School in Belvidere and has 32 years of experience.
"Jim builds instructional relationships with his tridents by communicating genuine caring for and interest in their past, present, and future lives both inside and outside the classroom. Jim knows circumstances in the lives of his students that present both opportunities for and barriers to learning."
Schoepski has served as debate coach, student council adviser, and conference academic team coach during his tenure at Belvidere High School.
Golden Apple Foundation is celebrating its 19th year of taking positive steps to achieve improved education in Winnebago and Boone counties. The Annual Golden Apple Banquet recognizing Excellence in Education and honoring the Golden Apple Teachers will be held on Friday, May 1, 2015 at the Radisson Hotel & Conference Center sponsored by First Midwest Group, Inc.