Cara Spitzner of Ogden Avenue School a 2017 Golden Apple Award Winner


Golden Apple, a leading nonprofit committed to celebrating and developing great teachers, surprised Cara Spitzner of Ogden Avenue School (4th Grade) on March 20th with the prestigious 2017 Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching. The awards recognize and honor outstanding teachers for their role in building a stronger, better-educated society.


This year's award recipients were selected from a pool of more than 600 nominations, and represent 4th-8th grade teachers throughout Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. Recipients were nominated by their students, community members/parents and colleagues who have directly engaged with them and benefitted from their talent and passion.

This is Spitzner's 14th year at Ogden. She taught third grade for six years, and this is her eighth year of teaching fourth grade. She's also involved with the Curriculum Advisory Council (CAC) and the Committee for Equity and Minority Achievement (CEMA). Spitzner holds a B.S.Ed. from Illinois Wesleyan University and a master's degree in Reading from Northern Illinois University.  A resident of Oak Park, she also volunteers on a Refugee Welcome Team through her synagogue, is a photographer and also loves to travel.

“The Ogden community has always been so supportive, but this really takes it over the top! Being an award winner is thrilling, and I'm incredibly honored. I can't wait to help shine a light on what a special community we have here,” said Spitzner.


As part of the awards selection process, distinguished teachers, college/university professors, administrators, and former Golden Apple Award recipients served on Golden Apple's selection committee. Committee members applied research-based professional standards to identify teachers who exemplify the highest standards and practices of the teaching profession. The selection process included classroom observations of the finalists and interviews with colleagues, administrators, students, and parents.

For more than 30 years, Golden Apple has recognized outstanding teachers throughout Illinois each year. Created by founders Mike and Pat Koldyke, Golden Apple's mission is to inspire, develop and support teacher and school leader excellence in Illinois, especially in schools-of-need. Each Golden Apple Award recipient receives a tuition-free, spring quarter sabbatical to study at Northwestern University. Each recipient also receives a $5,000 cash award. Perhaps most importantly, 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 within Illinois and nationally.


The 2017 Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching and Leadership recipients will be honored at an awards ceremony on May 20 at WTTW/Channel 11 Studios in Chicago. The event will be live streamed, and include live interviews with former students and guests of the award recipients.