News and Events

News Releases

Archdiocese of Chicago Teacher Selected as a 2023 Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching Recipient

Rachel Werderits, teacher at St. Andrew School in Chicago, has been recognized for lasting, positive effects on students’ lives and school community

Chicago, IL (May 2, 2023) – The Archdiocese of Chicago is proud to announce that Rachel Werderits, teacher at St. Andrew School in Chicago, has been named a 2023 Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching recipient. She is one of 10 teacher award recipients in Illinois and the only one from a Catholic school. The Golden Apple Awards honor outstanding teachers for having lasting, positive effects on students’ lives and school communities. The Golden Apple Foundation is the leading Illinois nonprofit committed to preparing, honoring and supporting educators who advance educational opportunities for students.

Werdertis dreamed of being a teacher since fifth grade on the North Side of Chicago. She has been inspiring educator who has been able to connect with students and make a difference in their lives. She has been a teacher for 16 years with 14 of those years at St. Andrew School. She currently a sixth-grade teacher.

“She sets the bar really high for all of her students and does everything to get them to where they need to be,” said Sarah Casevechia, principal of St. Andrew School. “I am so proud of Rachel. It has been a pleasure to watch her grow from a first-year teacher in 2009 to the excellent teacher she is today. I love watching her challenge herself and her students. When Rachel takes on a task, she is determined to excel and exceed the standards.”

Superintendent Greg Richmond said, "Congratulations to Ms. Werdertis and St. Andrew's School for this incredible honor. Teachers are the heart of our schools and it is because individuals like Ms. Werdertis make students feel known and loved. I am grateful to Golden Apple for recognizing the amazing talent and commitment of Catholic School educators who are so deeply committed to the academic, social, emotional and spiritual growth of their students."

Werdertis went viral during the pandemic for her running and teaching. She is a competitive runner and has run six marathons, most recently the Boston Marathon. During one of her daily runs at the beginning of the pandemic, she left a message for a student in chalk on the sidewalk. Her student was so thrilled that she made a plan to leave sidewalk chalk messages for all her students. These sidewalk chalk messages were a simple but effective way to make her students feel connected. They reminded her students that she cares about them and that she is always there for them.

“I’m still in disbelief,” said Werdertis. “I know I’m a good teacher, but I would never say I’m the best or exemplary and that people should watch me. But I’m floored, and seeing the response from the community and other colleagues is very humbling.”

Each recipient receives a $5,000 cash award. Northwestern University generously provides a spring sabbatical to award recipients at no cost. 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. 

To learn more about the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Catholic schools, visit: