North Star News

Niles North High School | Skokie, IL

North Star News

Niles North High School | Skokie, IL

North Star News

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Sharma takes the Golden Apple


The Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching was awarded to Niles North (NN) alumnus and history teacher, Pankaj Sharma. Golden Apple is a prestigious award presented to a teacher who goes above and beyond to see the their students excel in class. This is the third time that a Niles North teacher has won the Golden Apple Award. Scott Reed, Science Teacher, and John Krestos, Science Teacher, both won in 2010 and 2013, respectively.

The recipients of the award were selected from a pool of more than 400 nominations. The Golden Apple recognizes outstanding teachers throughout Illinois. Golden Apple’s mission is to inspire, develop and support teacher excellence in Illinois.

Golden Apple recipients are lifetime members. Each recipient gets a tuition‐free, spring quarter sabbatical to study at Northwestern University. They also receive a $5,000 cash award. This gives the teacher a stronger voice and a larger stage from which to make a difference in education within Illinois and nationally.

Sharma, a Niles North 1998 alumnus, has been passionately teaching students about history and the U.S government. He is an active teacher in class and makes students participate more in class through discussion. He encourages his students to never be afraid to voice their opinions and that all opinions matter.

“Mr. Sharma truly helped me break out of my comfort zone. Thanks to his constant encouragement and belief in my abilities, he shaped my high school career into a memorable and impactful experience. I am forever grateful to Mr. Sharma for believing in me and continuing to challenge my potential. I’m so happy for him,” Jennifer Goodfriend, Dance Marathon Executive, said.

Sharma sponsors Dance Marathon (DM) which is a group of students that collectively gather to create a philanthropic organization at both high schools. DM has raised over $100,000 collectively over the course of 15 years. He built a culture around humanitarianism and social justice efforts around the school.

“He encourages students to go outside the classroom to learn, whether that be through service or advocacy. He truly believes in the power of education, and you can see that in everything he does,” Sammy Weil, DM Executive, said.

The Golden Apple Award given to Sharma not only puts Niles North on the map, but also strengthens other educators who are committed to teaching students to excel. Sharma is an inspiration to everyone and NN is happy to have him here.

“It was exciting to talk about Pankaj to the Golden Apple Award selection committee. He has an incredible impact on our school community. He empowers and inspires our student body to become leaders in the classroom and the community. They grow into activists for change because Pankaj inspires them to engage in issues of social justice and look beyond their own back door to serve others in need. He is a catalyst for bringing our entire school community together as one school, one family,” Ryan McTague, Niles North Principal, said.

The 2016 Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching and Leadership recipients will be honored at an awards ceremony on May 20 at WTTW/Channel 11 Studios in Chicago.

Photo by: Karyn Malench

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Sharma takes the Golden Apple