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South Shore Teacher Receives Golden Apple Award

4/11/2018, noon | Updated on 4/11/2018, noon
Golden Apple recently named 10 outstanding Pre-K to third-grade teachers who would receive Awards for Excellence in Teaching this year. ...
Golden Apple recently named 10 outstanding Pre-K to third-grade teachers who would receive Awards for Excellence in Teaching this year. South Shore Fine Arts Academy’s very own Heather Duncan is one of this year’s award recipients for her work as a Pre-K teacher. Photo: Provided by Heather Duncan

South Shore Teacher Receives Golden Apple Award

BY KATHERINE NEWMAN

Golden Apple recently named 10 outstanding Pre-K to third-grade teachers who would receive Awards for Excellence in Teaching this year. South Shore Fine Arts Academy’s very own Heather Duncan is one of this year’s award recipients for her work as a Pre-K teacher.

Golden Apple is a non-profit organization that works to inspire, develop, and support teacher and school leader excellence in Illinois, especially in schools-of-need, according to the Golden Apple website.

Duncan has been a public school teacher for 20 years and has been teaching pre-k at South Shore Fine Arts Academy since the school opened in 2010. She said that her favorite part of teaching is watching her kids learn.

“Watching kids make discoveries is almost addictive. When you see it happening, t’s just an amazing rush,” said Duncan.

As a student at the University of Illinois Champaign, Duncan started her studies as an English major with the goal of going on to law school. She was encouraged by a family member to get certified to teach just in case, so she decided to pursue teaching high school English.

After making this change, Duncan was taking an educational psychology class and stumbled upon her passion for early childhood education.

“One day the teacher brought in this little kid that was about four. This kid was watching the teacher pour liquid into three different containers that were all different sizes and the teacher was illustrating how the child thought, because of his developmental level, that there would be more liquid in the taller vessel just because it appeared higher, when it was clear to us that it was the same amount of liquid in each container because he was pouring the same amount,” said Duncan.

Duncan found this particular demonstration to be riveting and it was the moment she remembers as the day she knew she was supposed to teach preschool. She left the class that day and told her friend “I need to teach preschool so that’s what I’m going to do now.”

Today, she is not only a successful teacher in her pre-k classroom she has also been building a platform to inspire and mentor young teachers who may have a tougher road ahead of them then she did when she started teaching.

“I’m at the point where I’m needing to give back and I feel the need to mentor other teachers because I was mentored so beautifully,” said Duncan. “I feel like I really need to offer what I know to younger teachers that are coming up now because their road is much harder than mine was. They can benefit from what I have learned and they don’t have to step in the same puddles that I did or have to have the same pitfalls. There are some things they can avoid just by being mentored by someone who has been there.”

You can keep up with Duncan and read her inspirational words on her blog, www.theauthenticpreschool.tumblr.com.