Southeast Alumna Among Golden Apple Excellence in Teaching Award Finalists


Libby (Dillaplain) Magee

Southeast Missouri State University alumna Libby (Dillaplain) Magee is a finalist for the 2019 Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching.

Magee is one of 32 finalists selected from more than 550 nominations from 71 counties across Illinois, who will be honored at the annual Celebration of Excellence in Teaching and Leadership Feb. 23 at the Tinley Park (Illinois) Convention Center.

Golden Apple, a leading Illinois nonprofit committed to recognizing exemplary educators and developing future educators, by honoring Illinois high school teachers whose quality of teaching and passion for growing their students create an environment in which students are inspired to persevere and attain their dreams.

Magee, a 1998 Southeast graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and a minor in political science, is chair of the World Language Department at O’Fallon Township High School in O’Fallon, Illinois. She teaches honors Spanish and Advanced Placement (AP) Spanish Language and Culture.

“I feel honored and excited to be nominated based on my classroom instruction and my love for my students and teaching,” Magee said.

Golden Apple nominees were selected by master educators who understand and recognize instructional best practices and who use professional standards to evaluate exemplary teachers and school leaders. Members of the selection committee viewed video evidence of instruction and observed finalists teaching in-person in their classrooms during a comprehensive day that also included interviews with finalists’ colleagues, school leaders, students, parents and community members. The recipients will be announced later this spring with surprise visits at their schools, and will receive a $5,000 cash prize and a Golden Apple Academy of Educators Fellowship.

Magee said she strives to make her classroom an energetic, vibrant space.

“I want to be sure that students are visually surrounded by the language and culture and that they are actively engaged and using the language,” she said. “It is a very caring, comfortable environment in which we have fun while working hard to improve.”

Magee was inspired to become an educator after teaching a Spanish course as a student at Southeast.

“After returning from a year of study abroad in Spain, my Spanish professor at that time, Dr. Leon Book, suggested I teach a level 100 Spanish course, and I realized that I had a passion and talent for teaching,” she said.

Magee taught for one year on a provisional certificate and returned to Southeast to complete her teaching certification.

“It was one of the best decisions I have ever made and changed my whole life,” she said.

Magee went on to earn master’s degrees in education and educational administration from Lindenwood University and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards’ National Board Certification.

This is not the first time her positive impact on students has been recognized. In 2008, Magee was awarded the Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award, and in 2011, she received the Illinois State Board of Education’s Award of Recognition.

Magee said her time at Southeast has had long-lasting personal and professional impacts on her life. While attending Southeast, she was an active member of Southeast’s Alpha Chi Omega sorority. She met her husband, Ed Magee, on campus.

“I feel that my time studying abroad in Spain and earning my degree in Spanish at Southeast prepared me well for my job as a Spanish teacher,” she said. “I have had many students attend Southeast on my recommendation, and I have enjoyed that connection with them.”

Magee advises students to make the most of their college years.

“Take advantage of any opportunities that are available to you. You never know what may lead to a future connection or job,” she said. “Be open and flexible to changing your mind about your career path or what you thought your future would look like – it can turn out better than you ever imagined it could!”