Golden Apple Award Winner: Mrs. Rebecca Downing-Pelley - – Rockford’s News Leader

Golden Apple Award Winner: Mrs. Rebecca Downing-Pelley

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Teaching art is not only about putting a paintbrush to a canvas. That's the message Boylan art teacher Rebecca Downing Pelley wants to give, and that's why she's one of the Golden Apple award winners this year.

"Producing fabulous artists, that's very, very wonderful, but I'd rather, I think, produce people who believe in themselves and can carry that in all walks of life," Mrs. Pelley says.

For more than 40 years Mrs. Pelley has been teaching Rockford high schoolers and says she still teaches concepts and terms in art, but there are a lot more practical lessons she sees.

"I'm really more interested in helping kids grow and helping them see that when they apply themselves, they can do anything, whether they become a dentist or an architect or whether they're doing my hair in five years, I want them to believe in themselves," she says. "That's really the most important thing to me."

And she says she gets those results on paper too.

"I get to see kids do well," she says. "I get to see a visible change in where they are and where they are next week or the following week."

And the fact that they can't believe they accomplished something like a self-portrait surprises her.

"I think that when a student looks at their work and they're just quiet or there's silence and you know they're thinking, 'wow,' and if I can come by and say, 'Did you think you could do that before?' and they know they couldn't have, but now they can, and that means they can do even more that's amazing," she says. "That gives me chills."

A big congratulations to Mrs. Pelley and Boylan High School.

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