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Golden Apple Awards Presented To Two NLU Alums Fields, Thomas Get Surprised in their Classrooms with Prestigious Awards


Sonya Fields, Ph.D., a second grade teacher at Chicago’s Dixon Elementary, is presented a Golden Apple award.


Sonya Fields, Ph.D., and Fontane Thomas became the latest in a long line of National Louis University alumni to receive the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching. The Golden Apple Foundation, based in Chicago, chose them from more than 600 nominations of Pre-K through 3rd grade teachers throughout Chicago and suburbs.

Golden Apple officials surprised the teachers by entering their classrooms during the school day to present the awards. Fields teaches second grade at Arthur Dixon Elementary School in Chicago’s South Side Chatham neighborhood, where 90 percent of her students come from low-income homes.  Thomas teaches pre-K students, mostly English Language Learners, at Stephen K. Hayt school in Chicago’s North Side Edgewater neighborhood.

Golden Apple officials also recently named NLU alums Laurie Mayer, Amy Orvis and James Schoepski as Golden Apple winners in the Rockford, Ill. area. These three, together with Fields and Thomas, combine to make 67 NLU alums in the Chicago and Rockford areas who have won Golden Apples in the foundation’s 30-year existence. <story continues below photo>


Fontane Thomas, a pre-K teacher at Chicago’s Hayt Elementary, poses with students after receiving the Golden Apple award.

“National Louis is so proud of our alumni who have been recognized with the prestigious Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching,” said Alison Hilsabeck, Ph.D., NLU provost and former executive dean of NLU’s National College of Education.

“The National College of Education has a history of partnering with schools to immerse our future teachers in the classroom environment from day one. This early entry in the classroom and experiential preparation truly is making a difference as our students lead their own classrooms.”

According to Golden Apple, its mission is to inspire, develop and support teacher excellence in Illinois. Each Chicago-area award winner receives a tuition-free, spring quarter sabbatical to study at Northwestern University, and a $5,000 cash award.

Each Rockford awardee receives a cash award and a professional development stipend, a desktop computer for their classroom, a laptop, and a professional development scholarship.