Joliet West band teacher receives Golden Apple award
BY JANET LUNDQUIST email@example.com May 1, 2013 2:22PM
Joliet West band director Kevin Carroll realizes that he has been given the Golden Apple Award during Symphonic Band practice. | John Patsch~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 3, 2013 3:23PM
A man considered the “spirit leader” of Joliet West High School was recognized with one of teaching’s highest honors Wednesday in a surprise ceremony.
Kevin Carroll, 42, of Plainfield, who teaches the high school’s concert, jazz, pep and marching bands, received a Golden Apple award for excellence in teaching.
Representatives from the Golden Apple Foundation, as well as school administrators, Joliet city councilmen, Carroll’s family and friends burst into the band room about 11:20 a.m. Wednesday as Carroll’s class was warming up their instruments.
As Carroll’s award was presented, students whipped out cell phones to record the event, and they gave Carroll two standing ovations.
Carroll’s students and their parents began the campaign to nominate him for the award, which was presented to 10 Chicago-area teachers chosen from a pool of 510 nominees.
When he first started teaching at Joliet West High School in 1993, Carroll wasn’t much older than his students.
Now, he said, he is teaching the children of some of his former students.
But time hasn’t changed the way Carroll relates to the teens, many of whom say they consider him a trusted friend.
They call him “KC,” a nickname their parents came up with that has stuck.
“KC’s always been there for students who needed help — in band or not,” sophomore saxophone player Isaac Long said.
“He bonds with everyone in a way so where he’s not just your teacher, but he’s also a friend,” Long said.
Carroll, who said he was humbled by the award, said his love of music and interest in teaching led him to pursue a teaching career.
“I’m overjoyed to get this award, but I think it has to extend to the whole school,” Carroll said. “I’m so proud to be part of this school and this faculty.”
His students and colleagues say Carroll is much more than a music teacher, said Gloria Harper, chief program officer for Golden Apple.
“When students who are not even in music say, ‘He brings out the inner musician in me,’ that in itself says a lot about what he does,” Harper said.
“He’s a very positive influence,” Harper said. “Sometimes you have to reach a child in a different way. Sometimes you can do that through music, and that’s what he’s done.”
Golden Apple recipients receive a tuition-free spring quarter sabbatical to study at Northwestern University, a $3,000 cash award, and become Fellows of the Golden Apple Academy of Educators, who influence education reform and mentor future teachers.
District officials say Carroll has revived its music program, growing the band from 70 members to 200 and the orchestra from 20 to about 70.
He also led a fundraising campaign that brought in $22,500 for the music program, money that is sometimes used to provide instruments for students who can’t afford their own, Harper said.
This is not the first time Carroll has been recognized for his work. In 2002, he received the Chicagoland Outstanding Music Educator Award from Quinlan & Fabish Music Co.