Area teachers collect Golden Apples


Kelli Houghton teaches literature at Willowbrook Middle School. Houghton was one of five area teachers who received a 2022 Golden Apple. The awards are given yearly to teachers who excel in teaching.

Thursday, March 10, was a special day for five happy and excited area teachers. Two of those teachers represent schools in our area. Kelli Houghton of Willowbrook Middle School in South Beloit, and Jean Chambers of Hononegah Community High School in Rockton, were presented the ultimate recognition of excellence in teaching- a Golden Apple. Both have been teaching literature at their respective schools for over 20 years.

Houghton teaches literature and advanced literature at Willowbrook. She holds a bachelors degree in elementary education from Illinois State University and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from National Louis University. “I’ve worked hard making sure I give the best of myself to my kids and the kids give the best to me.”

Jean Chambers teaches freshman World Literature and British Literature at Hononegah. Chambers earned a bachelor’s degree in English at Marquette University and a master’s degree in instructional strategies at Rockford University. This was her third Golden Apple nomination.

Chambers said her department works and collaborates with all the teachers in her department. “It just means so much to me, that I think of the (Golden) Apple as all of us, the whole department and the whole school.”

Jean Chambers teaches American and British literature at Hononegah Community High School. Chambers was among area teachers who excel at their vocation. She strongly believes in collaboration and working as a team.

Other 2022 Rockford area winners were: Matt Green – Roosevelt Community Education Center, Ashley Van Sickle – Harlem Middle School, and Rebecca Perry – Belvidere Middle School.

On the day of the presentations, Golden Apple representatives trailed a television crew from WTVO as they walked quietly through the hallways and peeked into the classrooms at each of the winner’s schools. It wasn’t just the teachers who were excited. Students in their classrooms clapped and cheered as the surprised teachers accepted their Golden Apples.

The Golden Apple Foundation began giving out the Golden Apple Award honoring teachers, principals and volunteers in 1997. More than 140 public and private schools are represented in Winnebago and Boone counties.

Award winners will be honored at an Golden Apple Awards banquet in May. They automatically become members of the Golden Apple Teacher Academy and receive a cash bonus.

Winners this year represent schools in Rockford, Belvidere, Harlem, Hononegah and Prairie Hill School Districts.

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