MacArthur teacher Maria Barba wins Golden Apple Award
Posted by Terri McHugh on Wednesday, May 9th, 2012 at 4:52 pm
MacArthur teacher Maria Barba was in the middle of a science lesson with her third-grade dual-language class today, when the door opened and visitors swarmed into her room to announce that she was one of 10 teachers to receive the 2012 Golden Apple Award.
“I’m really excited and honored that I actually won it,” Barba said. “I love working here because of you kids.”
Parent Elizabeth Blazejak, who is also a teacher, nominated Barba for the award after her son had Barba for a first-grade teacher last year.
“He had a rough year, but she did everything in her power to make it better for him,” she said. “Her communication with me as a parent was also wonderful. She really viewed us as a team.”
Golden Apple has presented its award to 10 outstanding Chicago-area teachers since 1986. The 2012 award is designated for teachers in early childhood through third grade. More than 500 teachers were nominated this year.
Choosing 10 award recipients from hundreds of excellent applicants is the responsibility of the Golden Apple Awards Selection Committee, made up of more than 90 volunteers including principals,
administrators, members of higher education faculties, and Golden Apple Fellows.
“This is a special place,” said John Figlewicz, a retired teacher who visited MacArthur to observe Maria in action. “When we walked in we knew she had to win because she was that special.”
Golden Apple selects teachers who exemplify the highest standards and practices of the teaching profession. These qualities include demonstrating distinguished classroom practice (pedagogical skill), professionalism and collegiality, high standards for themselves and their students, the ability to create a classroom environment conducive to learning, the ability to reflect on practice, creativity, commitment to students and their learning, and contribution to the wider school community.
“You truly inspire your kids and us every time we meet,” fellow teacher Rocio Hernandez told Barba as the celebration carried out of the classroom and into the gym. Also waiting in the gym were Barba’s family and other students she has taught in her four years working at MacArthur.
Barba’s dual language class consists of some students who are native English speakers and some who are native Spanish speakers. The goals of the program are that, after six to seven years of instruction, students will be able to use two languages in social situations appropriate for their age level; communicate effectively through reading and writing in two languages at a level appropriate for their age; perform academically at grade level commensurate with their monolingual English-speaking peers; and demonstrate an appreciation of cultural diversity and cross-cultural competence cross a variety of social situations.
Hoffman Estates Mayor Bill McLeod presented Barba with a key to the village saying, “Thank you for what you do for our children – the most precious resource we have.”