NORMAL — Two Bloomington-Normal teachers are finalists for the statewide Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching.
John Bierbaum, a social studies teacher at Normal Community West High School and Bob Fitzgerald, social science department co-chair at University High School in Normal are among 32 high school teachers across Illinois selected as finalists from 550 nominations.
Bierbaum, a graduate of Illinois State University and Heartland Community College, was a finalist for 2013-14 Illinois Teacher of the year. He received Heartland's Alumni Achievement Award in 2015, and has been a teacher at Normal West since 2005.
Fitzgerald also is a graduate of Illinois State University and has taught at U High since 2002. He spent January to July 2017 in England, studying at the University College London's Institute of Education as part of the Fulbright Distinguished Award program. He is assistant activities director and former head basketball coach at U High.
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Members of the selection committee will observe the finalists teaching in their classrooms and also will interview the finalists' colleagues, school leaders, students, parents and community members.
Ten award recipients will be selected. They will be notified in surprise visits at their schools this spring. Each will receive a spring sabbatical provided at no cost by Northwestern University and a $5,000 cash award.
The recipients also become Fellows of the Golden Apple Academy of Educators that supports current and future teachers.
Golden Apple is a non-profit organization, founded in 1985, that sponsors programs to prepare future teachers, provide professional development for veteran teachers and recognize excellence in teaching through its award programs.