Golden Lincoln-Way teacher ‘surprised and humbled’
BY SUSAN DEMAR LAFFERTY firstname.lastname@example.org May 1, 2013 1:46PM
Teacher Linda Egnatz (center) is presented with the Golden Apple Award by John Chomiak and Griselle Dia-Gemmati from Golden Apple, at Lincoln-Way North High School in Frankfort, Ill., May 1, 2013. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 3, 2013 3:22PM
Students in Linda Egnatz’s Spanish V course didn’t mind their class being interrupted Wednesday.
In fact, they clapped and cheered when representatives of the Golden Apple Foundation made a surprise visit to her classroom at Lincoln-Way North High School in Frankfort to announce that Egnatz was one of 10 teachers — from a pool of 500 nominees — to receive the coveted award this year.
“Oh, wow,” several of them murmured.
“Oh, my,” a stunned Egnatz said as she was handed a basket of gourmet chocolate-covered apples and delicacies. “I love chocolate.
“I am surprised and humbled. I have met a lot of amazing teachers,” she said.
She thanked the “great administration” that has supported her and her students.
“She’s just awesome. She has done everything,” said student Moira Quealy, who has had Egnatz as a teacher for three years. “She’s been everywhere and knows all about the different cultures. She can tell you what they eat for lunch on a Tuesday in Spain.”
Besides traveling extensively to Spanish-speaking countries and taking courses to sharpen her own language skills, she has taken more than 400 students to Spain, Honduras, Mexico, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Italy and France. In those locales, they have done service projects, interacted with local residents and learned to respect cultural diversity.
Egnatz has taught in Lincoln-Way Community High School District 210 for 12 years and has been a teacher for more than 30 years, she said. She teaches Spanish III, IV and V and advanced placement language and advanced placement literature.
Principal Michael Gardner and Associate Principal Lynn Merrick nominated Egnatz.
“We always look at who is worthy, and she pops right up,” Gardner said of Egnatz.
In his 38 years in the district, this is the first time a Lincoln-Way teacher has been so honored, he said.
As a Golden Apple award winner, Egnatz will receive a $3,000 cash award and a tuition-free, spring quarter sabbatical to take any classes she wants at Northwestern University.
She also will join the Fellows of the Golden Apple Academy of Educators, which provides a stronger voice from which to make an impact in education, according to the foundation. Fellows are involved in ongoing professional development, education reform and mentoring of future teachers.
For 28 years, the goal of the Golden Apple Foundation has been to recognize outstanding teachers and involve them in education reform.
The foundation initially planned to make its surprise visit to Egnatz’s classroom Thursday, but she planned to be in Springfield. Egnatz is working with State Sen. Iris Martinez (D-Chicago) to pass Senate Bill 1221, which would provide for a state seal of biliteracy to be stamped on the transcript of a high school graduate, indicating the student is proficient in reading, writing, listening and speaking a language other than English, according to Griselle Diaz-Gemmati, of the Golden Apple Selection Committee.
As school officials and the Golden Apple representatives began to leave Egnatz’s Spanish V class, the award winner turned to her associate principal and said, “What do I do now?”
“Just say to your students, ‘Fiesta!’ ” Merrick said.