The Golden Apple Foundation, the leading Illinois nonprofit committed to preparing, honoring, and supporting educators who advance educational opportunities for students, has announced the 2023 finalists for the prestigious Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching.

Dominique Yackley Founders ElementaryRepresenting Founders Elementary and the DeKalb Community Unit School District 428 in this distinguished group of educators is Dominique Yackley (Grade 5, General education content: Math, English Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, Culture, Social Emotional)

Yackley motivates her students by taking their interests and implementing them into the culture of her classroom. Whether they are playing a word game with “Takis” snacks or sporting “Stranger Things” gear, Yackley welcomes students’ cultures, likes, and interests. This results in respect, trust, and a strong relationship between Yackley and her students. According to her colleagues, the way Yackley inspires students while holding them accountable and to a high standard makes her an excellent teacher and leader.

Yackley creates a classroom where each individual student can thrive no matter what their needs. She stresses how important it is for her students to know that her classroom is a safe place for them where their thoughts and creative thinking are welcome. Yackley’s passion for inclusivity has encouraged her to build a diversity committee on the School Improvement Team. She also works with building administrators to develop professional development that helps district educators create more inclusive classrooms.

A highly competitive award process resulted in the selection of 30 4th-8th grade teacher finalists in our middle school cycle. Different grade levels are highlighted each year.


Complete list of 2023 Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching finalists 
The Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching honor outstanding teachers for having lasting, positive effects on students’ lives and school communities. Teacher finalists demonstrate — in their teaching and results — significant, positive impact on their students’ growth and learning. 

The selected 2023 Golden Apple Award recipients will be surprised in the spring. Northwestern University generously provides a spring sabbatical to award recipients at no cost. Each recipient receives a $5,000 cash award. Award recipients become Fellows of the Golden Apple Academy of Educators, a community of educators who play an important role in preparing the next generation of teachers in the Golden Apple Scholars and Accelerators programs – which are dedicated to addressing the teacher shortage in Illinois.  

About Golden Apple

Golden Apple’s mission is to inspire, develop and support teacher and school leader excellence, especially in schools-of-need. Our leading-edge preparation delivers exceptional teachers who make an impact. We help students thrive in the classroom and in life. Since our beginning, we have recognized master educators annually, and these master educators help prepare the next generation of teachers. Our vision is one in which every classroom has a great teacher, and to realize this, we are committed to making a material difference in resolving the teacher shortage. Visit for more information.




Media Contact: Rita Elliott
District Communications Coordinator
Office: 815-754-3384
DeKalb Community Unit School District (CUSD) 428 is located in northern Illinois, in the city of DeKalb, Ill., and is approximately 65 miles west of Chicago and 30 miles southeast of Rockford, Ill. DeKalb CUSD serves approximately 6,700 students in its Early Learning and Development Center, eight elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school. The district also has partnership agreements with Northern Illinois University, Aurora University, Rockford University, and Kishwaukee Community College.
DeKalb CUSD 428 NEWS MEDIA PROTOCOL: All members of the media should utilize the communications department as the first point of contact. The district communications coordinator may be reached at 815-754-3884 or This release is the official news head for DeKalb CUSD 428. Any information received on behalf of DeKalb CUSD 428, not on this news head, should be disregarded. 

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