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March 24, 2017

St. Therese principal wins Golden Apple award

By Joyce Duriga

Editor

Cardinal Cupich greets students at St. Therese Catholic School, 247 W. 23rd St., on March 23. He had arrived for a surprise announcement that Phyllis Cavallone-Jurek, principal, was named the 2017 Golden Apple Stanley C. Golder Leadership Award winner. The Golder Award honors the exemplary performance and excellence in school leadership of a principal or head of school from the Chicago area. This is the fourth year for the Golder Leadership Award, and Cavallone-Jurek is the first leader from a Catholic school to receive the award. Cavallone-Jurek has been principal of St. Therese Catholic School since 2004, and has 20 years of education experience. Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic (unknown/unknown)

News media, students and staff surprise Cavallone-Jurek with the news March 23 that she was named the 2017 Golden Apple Stanley C. Golder Leadership Award winner. Her husband watches from behind her. Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic (unknown/unknown)

St. Therese students cheer when the news is announced. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

Phyllis Cavallone-Jurek reacts to the surprise news. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

St. Therese Catholic School's dragon team make their way through the student body during a rally for their principal. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

Phyllis Cavallone-Jurek wipes away tears during the rally. Standing next to her is the daugher of Stanley C. Golder, for whom the leadership award was named. The Golder Award honors the exemplary performance and excellence in school leadership of a principal or head of school from the Chicago area. This is the fourth year for the Golder Leadership Award, and Cavallone-Jurek is the first leader from a Catholic school to receive the award. Cavallone-Jurek has been principal of St. Therese Catholic School since 2004, and has 20 years of education experience. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

Jim Rigg, superintendent of Catholic Schools, speaks during the rally on March 23. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

Students present their principal with flowers. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

A young student at St. Therese School waves his pom pom as news media, students and staff surprise Phyllis Cavallone-Jurek, principal of St. Therese Catholic School, 247 W. 23rd St., with the news March 23 that she was named the 2017 Golden Apple Stanley C. Golder Leadership Award winner. The Golder Award honors the exemplary performance and excellence in school leadership of a principal or head of school from the Chicago area. This is the fourth year for the Golder Leadership Award, and Cavallone-Jurek is the first leader from a Catholic school to receive the award. Cavallone-Jurek has been principal of St. Therese Catholic School since 2004, and has 20 years of education experience. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

When Principal Phyllis Cavallone-Jurek entered the cafeteria of St. Therese Chinese Catholic School in Chinatown on March 23 she faced a dozen news cameras and CBS anchor Rob Johnson who broke the news that she won the Golden Apple Stanley C. Golder Award for Excellence in Leadership.

Immediately the over 300 students gathered behind the media started cheering and screaming. It was a surprise announcement. Earlier in the day Cavallone-Jurek’s husband pretended he had an appointment he wanted her to attend and took her away from the school for a few hours while preparations were made.

Reacting to the announcement Cavallone-Jurek broke out in tears and covered her face with her hands. The students waved gold pompons and flags with both the school and Golden Apple logos.

Johnson asked her how she felt.

“I feel so blessed. Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” she said.

Both Cardinal Cupich and Jim Rigg, superintendent of Catholic Schools, were on hand to congratulate her. Cavallone-Jurek is the first Catholic school principal to receive the award.

In his remarks, Cardinal Cupich recognized the valuable work of all teachers and principals.

“Let us always remember that the work that they do is very honorable, that it is preparing the next generation and building up society,” he said “As we treasure their work, let us always be grateful for the many sacrifices that they make.”

In her remarks to the students and staff she said she was shocked they were able to pull off the surprise announcement and was moved by the gesture.

“You touch my heart and you touch my soul. I’m so happy to come to work each day,” she said.

Cavallone-Jurek is credited with saving St. Therese Chinese Catholic School. She came to the school in 2004 when enrollment was just 140 children. Today the school has over 300 enrolled and a waiting list. Under her leadership the school has received numerous local and national awards for excellence including the Blue Ribbon School Award in 2011.

As part of the Golden Apple award, Cavallone-Jurek receives $10,000 for her own professional development and a school project of her choosing. On May 20, she will join the 10 teachers who won Golden Apples this year on WTTW/Channel 11 for a special broadcast featuring the winners.