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Quinn surprises Englewood teacher with Golden Apple

Katherine Dube her classroom TEAM Englewood Community Academy as medithen Gov. PQuinn walked inher class award her Golden Apple for

Katherine Dube in her classroom at TEAM Englewood Community Academy as the media and then Gov. Pat Quinn walked into her class to award her a Golden Apple for Excellence in Teaching award. Monday, April 29, 2013. | Brian Jackson ~ Sun-Times

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Updated: June 1, 2013 6:18AM

Freshman English teacher Katherine Dube sometimes encourages her students to yell foul insults at each other during class.

“Thou art a rank, onion-eyed ruffian!” or, even worse, “Thou art a peevish, lily-livered dogfish!”

It’s a fun way, the TEAM Englewood Community Academy teacher explains, to introduce kids to Shakespeare.

“Once they’ve done that, they are kind of sold on the power of the language,” Dube explains.

And plenty of other folks are sold on the power of Dube’s unconventional methods for getting kids to learn. On Monday, Dube received the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching. Gov. Pat Quinn, a media swarm, Dube’s family and a host of other well-wishers poured into Dube’s classroom Monday morning to make the surprise announcement.

“I’m in complete shock, Dube said, as her students whooped and hollered their approval — in the 21st Century fashion.

“Teachers are our heroes, and you’re our heroine today,” Quinn said.

Elizabethan England comes to life in Dube’s drab cinder-block classroom that has skylights, but no windows. This school year, Dube won a grant, which allowed her to create a “Renaissance workshop,” in which students learned to knit, sew, carve wood, fashion their hair in bygone styles — tasks designed to illustrate the difference between life today and during Shakespeare’s day

“People didn’t just get to go to the store and buy whatever they wanted and have so many choices,” Dube said. “So it helped (students) understand the time period.”

For many students, Dube’s class is their first exposure to the Bard. Most said, based on Dube’s teaching, they’d like to read more.

Larry Quillin, 15, described Dube has his “favorite teacher.”

“She knows how to calm me down, keep me focused,” Quillin said. “She helps with anything I need. She’s just a nice teacher.”

Dube, nominated by her principal, was the first of 10 2013 recipients to be announced this year. The honorees, all high school teachers, were selected from a pool of 510 Chicago-area teachers.

Each award winner receives a tuition-free, spring quarter sabbatical to study at Northwestern University as well as $3,000 in cash.

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