Neuqua Valley Teacher Nominated for Golden Apple Award

Neuqua Valley Teacher Nominated for Golden Apple Award
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Neuqua Valley High School English teacher Laura Dabezic has been named one of 30 finalists for the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching.

The award honors teachers who standout in creating lasting, positive impacts to students’ education and their school communities.

Dabezik’s Teaching Style

In a press release, The Golden Apple Foundation said Dabezic, who teaches 9th and 11th grade English, was chosen in part for her ability to develop strong writers. “Dabezic starts her first day of English instruction with a motley crew of students who, over the course of six months, turn into a fierce group of writing superheroes capable of taking down any argumentative or rhetoric-based question that arises on their AP test,” the release said.

The Neuqua Valley instructor’s teaching strategy focuses on student growth. At the beginning of the school year, she gets a baseline of where students are in their argumentative essay skills by giving them prompts from the previous year’s national AP English test.

Rather than grading those initial attempts, she follows up at the end of the year by showing her students their first attempts, letting them see for themselves how far they’ve come. It’s just one way she tries to instill confidence in her class.

What Qualifies an Educator for the Award?

To be nominated for the honor, educators must have at least five years of teaching under their belts.  In addition, Golden Apple Foundation President Alan Mather says that the organization focuses on strong instructional practices.

“Do they know how to engage students in their learning? There’s true cultural competence. They understand the community they’re teaching; they understand the students there. They see their backgrounds as a strength, and they build on that. Civic engagement is super important to us as well, and a growth mindset,” said Mather.

Mather said, that growth is more than just seeing students progress, he wants to see teachers actively grow as well. “Not only do they see their students are always growing and learning and that they can impact that, but that they grow and learn themselves and they can continue to do that throughout their careers,” he added.

Reward for Winners

Recipients of the award will be notified in the spring. They’ll receive a paid spring sabbatical courtesy of Northwestern University and $5,000. On top of that, the 10 winning educators will become a part of the academy of educators, a group dedicated to advancing the next generation of teachers in the state.

Naperville News 17’s Ryan Sartori reports.

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