McHenry County teachers recognized with Golden Apple Awards

Johnsburg, Spring Grove educators selected as finalists

Jeri Faber, a second-grade teacher at Ringwood School Primary Center in Johnsburg School District 12, was recognized for her work as a finalist for the 2018 Golden Apple Awards.[]

JOHNSBURG – Two McHenry County teachers have been honored in the Golden Apple Awards.

Jeri Faber, a second-grade teacher at Ringwood School Primary Center in Johnsburg School District 12, and Erica Barraza, a teacher at Lotus Elementary School in Spring Grove, both were finalists in the 2018 competition.

Faber anonymously was nominated for the first time this year. She said that during the competition phase, she tried to showcase her ability to engage students with the curriculum in fun ways.

Some of those engaging projects included a unit on Monarch butterflies, where students had the chance to observe and track growth from the beginning of the insects’ lives to their ultimate release.

Another project had children create their own arcade games, which involved engineering and design work.

Faber said she was glad to reconnect with old students through the Golden Apple process, which called for her to use students and colleagues as references.

“Teachers don’t get into teaching for the recognition, but it is nice to get it,” she said. “It was fulfilling. … I got ahold of kids that were older, and it was wonderful. They shared special memories and moments that made my heart happy.”

Barraza, a first-grade teacher, said she was happy to celebrate her achievement with the students, families and community. She has been with Fox Lake Grade School District 114 for her entire career.

Barraza got her start student teaching in first grade 12 years ago. She also has taught fourth grade, and she has served as a team leader and instructional coach.

Barraza said she is proud to connect with children from all backgrounds.

“My personal experiences of adversity and success have made me very open and empathetic to kids’ feelings and experiences,” she said. “I am a firm believer that the true key to social-emotional growth and academic achievement begins with human connectedness. We all innately yearn to be understood, to be heard and to be loved. It’s my job to ensure that all of my students have those emotional needs met in a respectful, fun and safe environment.”