The Highland Park Community Foundation is pleased to announce that the 2014 recipient of the Golden Apple Award is Blake Novotny.
A teacher of fine arts at Highland Park High School since 2000, Novotny is an outstanding teacher who changes his curriculum each year to connect with current social issues, news stories, or recent trends in the art world. Said one supporter, “Blake is a teacher who thinks with his heart. This is evidenced by the individualized instruction and feedback he offers his students, the leadership role he assumes in the fine arts department and as a (soccer) coach, his commitment to equity work within the student population, and the connections he builds between art and society across the entire school community.”
In 2010, the Highland Park Community Foundation and a local family foundation initiated an annual Golden Apple Award to recognize outstanding teachers in the Highland Park school systems. Nominations are made in a rotating cycle: K-5, 6-8, and 9-12. A selection committee comprised of exemplary current and retired educators and administrators, and former Golden Apple award winners evaluate the extensive applications and complete a full day of observations. The recipient is chosen based on such criteria as instructional strategies, knowledge of content, interaction with students and staff, and contribution to school and community.
This year nominations were accepted for full-time teachers at Highland Park High School who have completed at least four full years of teaching. The committee received many excellent nominations, and after a rigorous and intensive review process, nominations were narrowed to three semi-finalists: Nairy Hagopian (Spanish), Blake Novotny (Fine Arts), and Barbara Obinger (Chemistry).
The Golden Apple Selection Committee met in May to determine the final recipient of the award. The final recipient, Blake Novotny, receives a $2,000 honorarium, a $500 gift certificate for an iPad, and a “Golden Apple.” All three of the semi-finalists will be honored publicly at a District 113 School Board meeting. By honoring exceptional educators, the Foundation hopes to demonstrate the strength and impact of excellent teaching in helping young people reach their potential.