2015 Golden Apple finalists, left to right, Greg Daniels, Andrea Macksood and James Schamber.                                                                                 Submitted photos

For 30 years, the Golden Apple Foundation has been recognizing educators for excellence in teaching. Three District 65 teachers are among the 30 finalists for this honor: Greg Daniels, kindergarten teacher at Oakton Elementary School; Andrea Macksood, third-grade teacher at Oakton Elementary School; and James Schamber, second-grade teacher at Orrington Elementary School.

The Golden Apple awards recognize and honor outstanding teachers for their role in building a stronger, better-educated society.

For the past 21 years, Mr. Daniels has taught kindergarten at Oakton Elementary School and has coached the Oakton Cougars co-ed flag football team for 20 of those years. Mr. Daniels brings his philosophy of teamwork and sportsmanship to his kindergarten classroom. “My favorite part about teaching is when the light bulb comes on for students; when they finally ‘get it after exercising persistence and patience,” said Mr. Daniels. “I love when children begin to take ownership of their learning and take pride in sharing their work/creations.”

Now in her second year at Oakton School, Ms. Macksood teaches in the Two-Way Immersion program. Collaborative by nature, she says she enjoys working with colleagues to enhance the diverse community that is Oakton Elementary School. She helps plan student events and assemblies that showcase many different cultures from around the world.  “It is my priority that my students feel loved, respected, and safe in my classroom,” said Ms. Macksood. “When these conditions are met, students are able to take on challenging work and push themselves to their intellectual limit,” she added.

Mr. Schamber has taught second grade at Orrington School for the past nine years.  He was nominated for his passion and dedication to teaching. Specifically, he demonstrates an ability to create a strong and supportive learning community. “I hope to be more than a classroom teacher. I want to be someone who connects with young learners. I am a cheerleader for students needing motivation, a counselor to those who are hurt and need healing, or a father to those looking for a hug. I am this way because I had great teachers growing up and their tremendous influence has inspired me to follow their path,” said Mr. Schamber.

 “District 65 is very fortunate to have dedicated educators like Mr. Daniels, Ms. Macksood, and Mr. Schamber, who are truly committed to making a difference in the lives of our children,” said Superintendent Paul Goren. “Their passion for this profession exemplifies what it means to serve every child, every day, whatever it takes,” he added.