Surprised wasn’t the word to express the joy of Luke Albrecht being named one of 2014’s Golden Apple winners during a reception in the Crown Community Academy of Fine Arts auditorium on May 7.

During the reception, Principal Lee Jackson called the entire North Lawndale school down to the auditorium for what Albrecht thought was a pep rally. During the ceremony he was called to the stage to demonstrate some math tips, and when he got to the stage the representatives of Golden Apple Foundation surprised him with the plaque and a basket full of treats. 

“Now when I walk through the halls everyone acknowledges me and comes up to congratulate me,” he said.

The Golden Apple representatives contacted his wife Stacza two days before the ceremony and he said she was completely discreet about not letting him know that he had already won.

“She said not one word and here I am getting nervous,” he said. “She didn’t say that I won she would say things like ‘I’m sure you’re probably going to win.'” 

“When I won she came out on stage with my five-year-old son,” he added. “It was great.”

Albrecht is one of 10 teachers who won this year’s award. The foundation also gave an award to its first principal. Awardees attended a Golden Apple meeting where they were inducted into the society. Although he is the first teacher to win the award at Crown, Albrecht says that now the pressure is on not externally but internally.

“I feel the weight of winning because it puts a spotlight on me. Everyone now sees me as this star performer, but when I wake up in the morning I have to ask myself everyday do I feel that way, am I being a star performer?” he said.

Albrecht received his undergrad degree at the University of Illinois in 1997 before working with the AmeriCorps afterschool program. He returned to Ohio State in August 2001 to receive his masters in elementary education. He began working as a math teacher at Crown in 2001 and says that he is glad that he found what he was meant to do.

“When I first started college I was studying to be journalism major, but my friends would say well if that doesn’t work out you can always be a teacher.”

Growing up he always knew he wanted to help serve people. Born in Morrison Illinois, his father owned a grocery store and his mother was a medical teacher. He recognized the work they were providing to the community. Albrecht said his passion for helping others started there.

Today, his classroom is filled with “anchors,” poster sheets of material which students can continue to learn from. His approach is to not drill material into their heads but to have them learn the material taught in class.

Winning the award he says is a great honor for him and the school. He wants to continue to teach at the school for many more years to come.

“I found the thing I love. I love this school, I love this neighborhood and this is where I belong.” Albrecht said.