Q&A with Golden Apple Award winner


In a surprise announcement in front of her class and school administrators, Spanish Teacher Sara Blair Winter-Rosenberg received the prestigious Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching on March 18.

According to a school press release, “Following a competitive process, the 2019 award recipients were selected from more than 550 nominations of high school teachers from 71 Illinois counties. The field was narrowed to 32 finalists and from that group 10 were chosen in Illinois.”

Currently, Winter-Rosenberg teaches Spanish 3 for Heritage Learners, Spanish 4 Honors for Heritage Learners and Spanish 5 Honors. She has been teaching for a total of nine years with seven of those being at MHS.

She also has sponsored diversity club for the past five years, is a member of the Equity and Racism Committee and assists with Universidad de padres, a Spanish-speaking parent group.

With the 2019 Golden Apple winners, Winter-Rosenberg will be featured on a one-hour Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) program, which will air a few times after May 18.


What kind of teaching methods do you use in your classroom that you find effective in connecting with your students? I think one of the most important things I do to connect to my students is to include their opinions, beliefs and culture in the classroom every day. We start every day with a quick write related to the topic we will learn about that asks students to reflect on how the topic connects to their own life experiences or what they believe. In this way, students are constantly connecting their home life and values to the class materials. Another thing that a lot of teachers do is allow for student choice. I try to allow for some flexibility in what we study to make sure that it aligns with students’ interests, which constantly change depending on the group. This helps me learn more about my students as well.


What is your favorite part about teaching? My favorite part of teaching is getting to know my students and seeing them take pride in who they are and where their families come from. Students at MHS constantly impress me, surprise me and make me laugh, and it is a true pleasure and honor to work with them.


Why did you become a teacher in the first place?

I became a teacher because I wanted to do something with my life that would matter to someone. I teach 150 students a year, and I can only hope that some of those students each year take something from our classes with them– that they become more likely to read books throughout their lives or travel, that they feel more proud to be Latino/a, that they think more critically about the world around them and the kind of world they want to live in.


What inspires you to teach and to continue to improve your methods?

The students, and recognizing areas in which I’m not serving them appropriately, inspires me to keep improving. There is always something that I could be doing better. Also, seeing inequalities within our own community, school and country pushes me to make myself useful and work toward fighting those inequalities.


What does winning the award mean to you?

This award means so much to me because it reflects not only my work but also the work and passion of my students, the administrators who have supported these classes, my colleagues who have taught me so much and every person involved in the community who contributes to our students’ success. The award truly belongs to the entire school. I am thrilled to continue my own education and expand what we’ve learned in developing Heritage Learners classes at MHS to a wider community.