principal and student

Chicago Heights School District 170 and Greenbriar School are pleased to announce that Laura Wolframski, the school’s 6th- through 8th grade Science teacher, has been nominated for the prestigious Golden Apple Award.

Wolframski, a teacher at the school for four years, was recommended for the award by Helen Burkat, the school’s psychologist.

“I nominated Ms. Wolframski because I have always been impressed with the level of involvement, enthusiasm, and respect in her classroom,” Burkat said.

“Her students are always engaged and learning, and there is always something fun and exciting going on in her classroom,” she continued.

“I believe she truly has had a positive impact on the lives of her students and the staff at our school.”

Following her nomination, Wolframski was required to submit an application to the Golden Apple Foundation. She also was required to forward letters of recommendation from a school administrator, a current or past teaching colleague, and an individual who values her commitment to teaching.

A Golden Apple Foundation selection committee will review all application packages and will choose the thirty finalists for the award in early February.

Once selected, members of the Selection Committee will meet with the nominees, and observe them in their classrooms. From those finalists, the Selection Committee will choose ten Golden Apple Award recipients.

Each Golden Apple winner will receive a paid spring quarter sabbatical to study tuition-free at Northwestern University; recognition at an awards ceremony broadcast on WTTW/Channel 11 in May of 2017; induction into the prestigious Golden Apple Academy of Educators; and a cash award of $5,000.

Wolframski admitted that she was extremely flattered upon hearing of her Golden Apple nomination.

“I was thrilled when I received the news,” she said.

“I am thankful for the on-going support of my colleagues, administrators, and loved ones while I go through this process. I don't know what the result will be, but no matter what happens I feel like I have already won when I walk into my classroom and see my students learning about science and, hopefully, learning how to make a difference in the world.”

Wolframski’ philosophy is one of constructivist teaching. She believes that students learn best when they are actively involved in the learning process rather than being passive recipients of the lesson that she is teaching.

“With that belief, my lessons are inquiry based, and I find that all of my students are engaged in what they are doing," Wolframski said. "I attempt to build trust and respect in my classroom and find that, once that’s been done, behavior problems disappear and everything else falls into place.”

Since becoming a junior high science teacher the greatest influence on Wolframski’s teaching and approach to classroom instruction has been her involvement in the Golden Apple Stem Institute at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry.

“The institute has taught me to use inquiry-based instruction to engage my students in their learning,” she explained. “I am no longer the teacher who tells my students how to do the experiment, but I allow them to take their individual roles and become scientists themselves, and to make mistakes to achieve.”

“My favorite part of the teaching experience is having students achieve success and go home and share what they’ve learned with their parents and families. That’s when I know that they are engaged and excited about Science; they become the teachers!”

Greenbriar Principal Joe Taylor, and Mary Kay Entsminger, School District 170’s Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction were happy to acknowledge Wolframski’s Golden Apple recognition.

“We are so proud of Laura and are thrilled that the Golden Apple Foundation recognizes her incredible efforts as an educator,” Entsminger said. “She is a superb teacher; a shining light – one of many – to be found in the classrooms of School District 170.”

“We are very lucky to have Laura teaching at Greenbriar School,” added Taylor. “Her passion, commitment, understanding, and dedication to her students exemplify all the things that we try to embody as a school.”