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Congratulations! Four NLU Alumni Receive Golden Apple Awards Two alums in Chicago, two in Rockford receive the prestigious award for teachers

Teachers watch with anticipation every year as Golden Apple (in the Chicago area) and the Golden Apple Foundation of Rockford go through the process of fielding nominations for outstanding teachers, making personal visits to the finalists’ classrooms and then finally selecting Golden Apple award winners.

This year, four National Louis University alumni got the thrill of having the media, their principals, officials and others surprise them in their classroom with the exciting news they had won Golden Apple awards for excellence in teaching.  Golden Apple bestowed awards to two Chicago-area teachers, and Golden Apple of Rockford bestowed two to teachers in northern Illinois.

Here are the four NLU alums among this year’s winners.

Lisa Buchholz ’95, Chicago area

Lisa Buchholz ’95 teaches first grade at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School in Glen Ellyn and earned her M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from NLU. After 27 years of teaching, she specializes in integrating multiple concepts. Often, it’s hard to tell which specific subject is being taught due to the overlapping and reinforcing of math, reading and science concepts in her lessons. She guides her students to strive for the highest of standards and to expect more of themselves and each other every day. She is passionate about teaching her students to adopt an “I can” attitude in school and life.

Meghan Dolan ’10, Chicago area

Meghan Dolan ’10, who earned her M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction at NLU, teaches third grade at John M. Palmer Elementary School in Chicago. Her teaching intentionally includes activities that allow her to interact with every student so that she may learn as much as possible about their progress and needs. In her classroom, Meghan emphasizes the importance of character-building, giving back to communities, kindness and problem-solving.

“Golden Apple is proud to recognize this year’s award recipients for their exceptional accomplishments in the classroom,” said Alicia Winckler, Golden Apple president and CEO. “Each of the recipients is uniquely talented and epitomizes the dedication, skill and drive in the teaching profession that facilitates better futures for scores of young people.”

Golden Apple provides each winner with a $5,000 cash award, and Northwestern University provides each recipient with a tuition-free, spring-quarter sabbatical to study at Northwestern University.  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.

Katherine Koehler ’17, Rockford area

The Rockford Golden Apple Foundation awarded a Golden Apple to Katherine Koehler ’17, a first-grade teacher at Ledgewood Elementary School in Roscoe, Illinois. Koehler has six years of teaching experience.

Katherine graduated from Rockford University with her B.A. in elementary education in 2011. She earned her  M.Ed. in Administration and Supervision from NLU in 2017.

Lance Tuula ’12, Rockford area

The Rockford foundation also presented a Golden Apple award to fifth-grade teacher Lance Tuula ’12 of Whitman Post Elementary in Rockton.

Tuula earned his B.S. in Elementary Education at Rockford College in 2004, and his M.Ed. in Administration and Supervision at NLU in 2012. He has 13 years of teaching experience.

Both Rockford winners were chosen from a group of 20 outstanding finalists who teach PreK-Grade 5 at public and non-public schools in Boone and Winnebago counties. They will receive a cash award and professional development stipend from the Golden Apple Foundation, a laptop with software and the Terry Ingrassia Professional Development Scholarship at Rockford University.

The Rockford foundation will honor them with a red carpet arrival at a banquet on April 27 at Giovanni’s Restaurant and Convention Center in Rockford.

For the Chicago area winners, more information on each award recipient, as well as videos, photos and social media snapshots of the 2018 surprise visits, can be found at All recipients will be featured on May 19 on a WTTW one-hour TV program and live stream marketed to local school communities.

About Golden Apple
Founded in 1985, Golden Apple innovates teacher preparation and leadership to transform both the careers of teachers as well as the lives of students in Illinois. Its signature initiative, the Golden Apple Scholars Program, provides exceptional teacher preparation, resources and lifelong support to advance educational excellence for Illinois’ most underserved students in schools-of-need. Aspiring teachers/Scholars are recruited from the communities in which they return to serve — with a passion for teaching and a drive to create positive change for young people in their communities. Scholars commit to teach at an Illinois school-of-need for five years after graduation. More than 1,000 Scholars currently are teaching across Illinois.