CHICAGO- Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn and the Golden Apple Foundation surprised and honored Elena Diadenko-Hunter, an art teacher at Clemente Community Academy High School, with the announcement that she is among the 10 recipients of the 2004 Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching. This year’s 10 Golden Apple Award winners were surprised in their classrooms with the news that they have won.
“This award is a mark of distinction that celebrates accomplished teachers who instill in their students an enthusiasm for learning and innovative thinking,” said Quinn.
An accomplished artist herself, Ms. Diadenko-Hunter is described as one who “transforms some students into career artists and everyone into artistic thinkers.” She asks students to be deeply informed about subject matter in order to inspire their artwork. She home-schools students who are too ill to attend class and sets an example for all, based upon her own youth in Ukraine, that obstacles can be overcome through creativity and help from others.
This year, a total of 681 teachers from Cook, Lake and DuPage counties were nominated for the award, which was first presented in 1986. Thirty-two finalists were chosen in February. Each finalist then was observed in their classroom and their principal, colleagues, students and students’ parents were interviewed.
“Teachers are a great asset to the State of Illinois, and a terrific teacher is unforgettable,” said Quinn. “They should take an immense pride in the difference they make in children’s lives and the impact they make on their futures.”
Each of the 10 Golden Apple Award winners will receive a tuition-free fall-term sabbatical at Northwestern University; $2,500; a personal computer from Apple; and induction into the Golden Apple Academy, which now numbers 180 expert teachers who work together to ensure that all children have the excellent teachers they deserve.
Quinn will be joining Diadenko-Hunter and the other Golden Apple recipients at an awards ceremony on May 8 at the Fairmont Chicago Hotel, where the teachers will be honored for their outstanding skill and dedication to their students. This ceremony will subsequently be aired as a one-hour prime-time special on WTTW/Channel 11.
Lt. Gov. Quinn’s younger brother, John Quinn, received the Golden Apple Award in 1992 as a U.S. History teacher at Fenwick High School in Oak Park, IL. He is currently the basketball coach for the Fenwick Friars.