PRESS RELEASE: Don Zimmerman began teaching locally in 1956 at Rockford West High School as an Orchestra teacher. He later taught at Guilford High School. He inspired his students to excel to the best of their ability in every part of their lives. 

Don Zimmerman and his friend, Dr. Richard Novak, took their passions for education and turned it into a collective community effort to recognize excellence in teaching with the founding of Golden Apple Foundation in 1997. The Foundation continues its mission of inspiring, celebrating and supporting educational excellence in our community through awards & recognition, the Golden Apple Teacher Academy, classroom grants, and teacher scholarships. 

Golden Apple Foundation and the family of Don Zimmerman honor his memory with the Don Zimmerman Golden Apple Scholarship, first established in 2020. This scholarship grants an existing teacher a full-tuition scholarship at Rockford University to complete a master’s degree in Education. The submission deadline is 5 p.m. Friday, May 20, 2022. Finalists will be contacted by June 1 regarding interviews. The 2022 recipient will be chosen by June 15 and begin as a student at Rockford University in the Fall 2022. The first recipient of this scholarship was Meghan Baylor, a teacher at Boylan, who will complete her degree at Rockford University this spring. Eligible applicants must meet these criteria:

Certified Pre-K-12th grade teacher who has completed a minimum of two years as a full-time teacher

Currently teaching full-time in a public school or ISBE recognized non-public school in Winnebago or Boone County

Employed in good standing within current school district

Maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA

Must have applied for admittance to Rockford University’s master’s program prior to application submission.  

Application forms are available on