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HHS Teacher Finalist for Prestigious State Award

Golden Apple, a leader in advancing the teaching profession in Illinois for 28 years, has proudly announced that Hampshire High School Band & Orchestra Teacher Helen Lawrence is a finalist for the 2013 Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching.  Mrs. Lawrence was selected from a pool of 510 nominations and 215 applicants from throughout the Chicago metropolitan area.

Since 1986, Golden Apple has recognized outstanding teachers each year. This prestigious awards program recognizes and honors top teachers for their role in building a stronger, better-educated society. Golden Apple is a non-profit organization that works to inspire, develop and support teaching excellence in Illinois, especially in schools of need. Because the critical contributor to student achievement is the quality of the teacher in the classroom, Golden Apple is dedicated to providing exceptional preparation for teachers at all stages of their careers.

Golden Apple representatives will be visiting HHS on April 11 to observe Mrs. Lawrence’s work in the classroom and conduct an in-depth interview. She is among 32 finalists, who will be narrowed to 10 award recipients announced next month. The 10 winners will be featured in a special broadcast on Chicago Public TV (WTTW) this fall and will receive a tuition-free, spring quarter sabbatical to study at Northwestern University. Each recipient will also receive a $3,000 cash award. Perhaps most importantly, award recipients become Fellows of the Golden Apple Academy of Educators, giving them a stronger voice and a larger stage from which to address improving the education experience of children.

A proud product of District 300, Mrs. Lawrence graduated in 1980 from Irving Crown High School. She student taught at Jacobs High School and Dundee Middle School before joining the faculty of Hampshire Middle/High School. She is currently finishing her 29th year at HHS teaching concert band, symphonic band, concert orchestra, symphonic orchestra, AP music theory, jazz band, marching band, pep band, and chamber orchestra. In 2005, her peers nominated her for Kane County Educator of the Year. Mrs. Lawrence led the effort to bring orchestra to the Hampshire community eight years ago, and she is now teaching the first group of Hampshire students to have gone together through the entire 5th-12th grade orchestra program.

“My proudest accomplishment as a teacher in Hampshire is the growth in the program,” she said, “and the wonderful young people who have graduated from the music program and have gone on to become outstanding professional musicians, music educators, and musicians in their communities.”

The Golden Apple nomination process has been incredibly humbling, she added.

“I feel as though I am surrounded by wonderful educators, administrators, students, and community who have pushed me to continue to grow as a person, mentor and teacher,” she said.

All of this year’s finalists will be honored at an awards brunch in Chicago at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 13. Mrs. Lawrence’s supporters are welcome to attend. Tickets should be purchased in advance. Tickets and more information are available by contacting Cassie Prugar at or 312.477.7520.

After the 10 award recipients have been announced next month, a date will be chosen for the D300 School Board to specially recognize Mrs. Lawrence at a School Board meeting.

To learn more about the Golden Apple organization and its programs, please click HERE. For more information about this year’s awards, click HERE.


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