Two area educators receive Golden Apples for Excellence in Teaching


(L-R) Golden Apple Award winners Sarah Shoevlin and Crystal Ellis

It’s Golden Apple time again. Beginning in 1997, the Excellence in Education award has been presented to five teachers each year in Winnebago and Boone County. But this year, the Golden Apple Foundation chose six finalists from a field of 130 teachers in primary through fifth grade.

On March 8, 2023, representatives from the Golden Apple Foundation surprised Crystal Ellis, third grade teacher at Stone Creek School in Roscoe. They also stopped by Prairie Hill Elementary School in South Beloit to present the coveted award to third-grade teacher Sarah Shoevlin.

Crystal Ellis has 20 children in her class at Stone Creek School. “The kids were so excited when the Golden Apple people came into our classroom.”

Born and raised in Roscoe, she went to Ledgewood for first and second grade and part of third grade. Halfway through third grade, she transferred to the brand-new Stone Creek Elementary School.

Crystal attended Roscoe Middle School and graduated from Hononegah Community High School in 1999.

She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in education from Rockford University, and a master’s degree from Olivet Nazarene University.

“Coming back to Stone Creek was like coming home again.”

Crystal said that earlier this year, there were often melt-downs as students returned to the classroom after COVID-19. “The children have come a long way and are learning how to re-gain social and emotional skills.

Crystal has one son, Kaylin, 16.

The same day, Sarah Shoevlin, teacher at Prairie Hill School in South Beloit, also received a surprise visit from the Golden Apple representatives. Her excited third grade students were overjoyed for their teacher.

Sarah is originally from Windsor, Canada. After she and her family moved to the United States, she attended Roscoe Middle School and graduated from Hononegah Community High School.

Sarah went on to graduate from Illinois State University with a degree in primary education. She completed a master’s degree as a reading specialist.

She is married to Steve Shoevlin and has three children.

Sarah said she was born to be an educator. “I always knew I was going to become a teacher. I love the classroom environment. This is my niche.”

“COVID has been hard on the children,” she said. “They missed things, they had trouble reading facial expressions earlier in the year, but they have made a smooth transition.”

The purpose of the Golden Apple award is to support, celebrate and inspire educational excellence in the community. In addition to the Golden Apple, each teacher receives cash, a professional development stipend, a laptop computer donated by Entre Computer Solutions, a Rockford University scholarship and are inducted into the Golden Apple Teacher Academy.

The six Golden Apple winners will be guests of honor at a gala event on Friday, April 28, 2023 at Tebala Event Center, 7910 Newburg Road in Rockford. The award night is sponsored by the Bergstrom Charitable Foundation and Collins Aerospace.

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