Music Teacher A Golden Apple Finalist

Greenbriar Music Teacher a Golden Apple Finalist
Posted on 01/24/2020
A music class and Principal Dr. Ginny Hiltz celebrate Mr. Bartunek being selected as a Golden Apple Finalist

Everyone can sing, just ask Jeremy Bartunek, the Greenbriar School music teacher. In fact, any parent who has attended a Winter Sing or musical over the last seven years will agree. They have witnessed his students demonstrate this in concert.

Jeremy Bartunek is one of 30 finalists for the 2020 Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching. The prestigious Golden Apple statewide award recognizes Illinois teachers in grades 4-8 for superior performance in the classroom and school community, according to the organization’s announcement on Jan. 23.

Using the Kodály method of teaching music to children is one of the ways his classes have transformed  music education at the school. The Kodály method blends exercises and games with learning to sing pitches by ear. He blends this teaching style with the Orff philosophy, which combines music, movement, drama, and speech into lessons. 

“I teach children how to be musically literate,” Mr. Bartunek said. “Just as we expect everyone to know how to read, we never say ‘no, that kid’s just not a reader,’; we can expect everyone to know how to sing. We can’t say, ‘that kid’s just not a singer.’ Every person can sing and has the ability to, and if taught correctly, it's a skill they can carry throughout their life.

As part of the district-wide curriculum, students in 1st through 4th grade perform in an annual Winter Sing, and every spring the 5th grade puts on a musical. Kindergarten students share their learning in the classroom for their parents in the spring. Elementary music is offered throughout the district to kindergarten through 5th grade through two 30-minute classes per week.

Mr. Bartunek launched a district-wide children’s choir this year as an after-school activity for 3rd, 4th and 5th grades. Each of the three choirs meets once a week and performs in concerts throughout the year.

Mr. Bartunek also partners with Greenbriar art teacher Jeremy Blair to write the 5th grade musical. This is the fourth year they are creating an original production. Together they write the script and music, and Mr. Bartunek records all of the back-up music in his home studio.

“I'm thrilled that Mr. Bartunek has been honored,” said Greenbriar Principal Ginny Hiltz. “He has made such a positive impact on the students at Greenbriar, instilling in them a love of music. He consistently brings our school community together with performances and opportunities to share. He's dedicated and innovative and we're incredibly lucky to have him at Greenbriar.”

All of the finalists, selected from 732 nominations, will be recognized at the Golden Apple Celebration on Feb. 22.

“It’s tough to get music outside of four walls of the music room,” Mr. Bartunek said. “That’s been my goal since I started, to get music out into the community. Getting this award has shown me that music is so highly valued in the community of Northbrook and District 28 and that they appreciate what’s happening with arts education.”

Following the recognition of finalists, the selection for the Golden Apple winners will continue with a team of two from the 2020 Golden Apple Selection Committee visiting each of the finalists’ schools. Each team will complete a classroom observation and conduct interviews with parents, students, colleagues and the principal.

Ten of the finalists will be selected for the 2020 Golden Apple Award of Excellence in Teaching and will be notified in the spring with a surprise visit.