Morgan Park Academy’s Emily Drown is one of 30 finalists for the 2016 Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching, an annual award that celebrates great teachers with the ability and passion to make life-changing differences in the lives of students.

The awards recognize and honor outstanding teachers for their role in building a stronger, better-educated society. This year’s finalists were selected from a pool of more than 400 nominations, and represent 9th-12th grade teachers throughout Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. For more information, visit

Drown, who teaches Upper School science, was nominated for her passion and dedication to teaching. Specifically, her teaching style, which emphasizes critical analysis instead of memorization, prepares students for the demands of higher education and the real world. Her commitment to students is evident; she enjoys seeing students “have their “a ha” moments.

As Drown explains, “there is nothing like doing an experiment and having students make connections to what they have read and what they have seen in the lab.”

“Emily is a dedicated teacher who inspires her students, and those in the MPA community, to excel both in and out of the classroom. Her innovative teaching prepares our students to be independent learners and global leaders. It is an absolute privilege to work with her; she is most deserving of this recognition,” said Mercedes Z. Sheppard, Head of School at Morgan Park Academy.

The 30 finalists will experience a final round of review and classroom observations prior to the selection and announcement this spring of the 10 award recipients. Golden Apple’s award selection committee is comprised of college and university professors, educational consultants, administrators and former Golden Apple Award recipients. Committee members utilize industry and research based professional standards to identify teachers who exemplify the best of the teaching profession. As part of the final selection process, the finalists will be observed in their classrooms and the selection committee will conduct interviews with the teachers’ colleagues, supervisors, students and parents.

“Now more than ever, superior teacher quality defines the educational experience children have,” said Dominic Belmonte, President and CEO of Golden Apple. “These finalists have evidenced transformative talent in improving students’ lives as well as their learning acumen. Golden Apple is proud to pursue its mission of honoring teacher excellence through these candidates.”

For over 30 years, Golden Apple has recognized outstanding teachers throughout Illinois each year. Created by founders Mike and Pat Koldyke, Golden Apple’s mission is to inspire, develop and support teacher excellence in Illinois. Golden Apple award recipients play a critical role in furthering the programs of Golden Apple, particularly as members of the faculty who help prepare Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois program participants to be future teachers within schools-of-need.

Each Golden Apple Award recipient receives a tuition-free, spring quarter sabbatical to study at Northwestern University. Each recipient also receives a $5,000 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 make a difference in education within Illinois and nationally.