Since 1997, the Golden Apple Foundation award program has awarded Golden Apples to exemplary teachers in the Rockford area. The awards recognize teachers with high standards of professionalism, leadership and innovation in teaching.

Earlier this year, Thomas Kress, community market president for Associated Bank, surprised Candice Cortese, a math teacher at Hononegah Community High School in Rockton, with a Golden Apple Teacher Award in her classroom. Kress and other Associated Bank colleagues attended the Golden Apple Excellence in Education Awards Banquet on April 26 where Kress escorted Cortese on stage to accept her award.

Kress also serves on the board of directors for the Golden Apple Foundation in Rockford and Associated Bank is a sponsor of the Golden Apple program in both Rockford and Green Bay, Wis.