Golden Apple recipient Kristen Mitchell. RoundTable photo

On March 23, the last school day before spring break, students at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Literary and Fine Arts School gathered in the auditorium for a surprise for one of their teachers. Kindergarten teacher Kristin Mitchell was about to receive a Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching.

King Arts social studies and science teacher Carla Stone, herself a recipient of a Golden Apple, kept the students quiet by inviting them to show the universal sign for peace, “showing we are all a family.”

James Schamber, a second-grade teacher at Orrington School who received a Golden Apple in 2015, also attended the ceremony.

Newscasters Karen Jordan of ABC Channel 7 and her husband, Christian Farr, of NBC Channel 5, presented the award to Ms. Mitchell. Their daughter Vivian is one of Ms. Mitchell’s students.

“We have seen Vivian grow,” Mr. Farr said.

“We could not be more thrilled that you’ve been Vivian’s teacher,” Ms. Jordan said.

Student Council members praised Ms. Mitchell – “You were always patient, and you never gave up.”

Student C.J. Walker sang “There’s a Light in the Darkness.” The Dancers for the Spirit involved the entire student body, chanting as they danced, “We love Ms. Mitchell.”

King Arts Principal Jeffrey Brown said, “Congratulations to Ms. Mitchell. She deserves it, deserves it, deserves it. … We love Ms. Mitchell.”

“We could not be more proud of the work Ms. Mitchell does on behalf of the students at King Arts and on behalf of all the students of the District,” said Superintendent Paul Goren.

Ms. Mitchell said, “I love King Arts so much.”

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

The 2018 award recipients were selected from a record pool of more than 650 nominations, and represent pre-K through 3rd grade teachers from the Chicagoland area. Fellow educators, students, parents and community members nominate teachers for the award each year.

Northwestern University provides each Golden Apple Award recipient with a tuition-free spring quarter sabbatical to study at Northwestern University. Each recipient also receives a $5,000 cash award. Award recipients become Fellows of the Golden Apple Academy of Educators, giving them a stronger voice and a larger stage from which to make a difference in education. All recipients will be featured this spring on a WTTW one-hour TV program and live stream marketed to local school communities.

Mary Gavin

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...