Golden Opportunity

 

I have known I wanted to be a teacher since I was in fourth grade, after I realized I would not be able to handle putting down any puppies and kitties as a veterinarian. I have been surrounded by teachers my whole life not only in school, but also at home. Both of my parents were teachers, both grandmothers, and even a number of my aunts and uncles work or have worked in education. Choosing my path towards teaching was easy, but funding it was not. Many students have a hard time paying for college, and paying back student loans on a teacher’s salary is far from glamorous. Luckily, I had a very knowledgeable counselor in high school that pointed me towards the Golden Apple Scholarship.

In 1986, Pat and Mike Koldyke were watching an awards show on television and wondered, “Why isn’t there an awards show for teachers?” Now, every year, 10 outstanding teachers are awarded the Golden Apple Excellence in Teaching Award. In 1989, the Koldykes lead another brainchild to fruition, and they began the Golden Apple Scholarship. Today, up to 200 students receive the Golden Apple Scholarship every year.

What is the Golden Apple Scholarship, you may ask? Well, that question is best answered in two parts. First, the Golden Apple Scholarship is exactly what the name says: a scholarship. Recipients receive $2,500 in scholarship funding the first two years of college, and $5,000 their last two years of college. Additionally, scholars receive $2,000 for every Summer Institute they attend. This brings me to the next part of the scholarship. This scholarship also serves as an internship. A Summer Institute is effectively a paid internship. For four to six weeks in the summer, scholars stay at a partner university in Illinois where they assist in the classroom of a local high-needs school for half of the day, while they take teacher preparation courses on campus the second half of the day. Institute locations include DePaul University in Lincoln Park, Saint Xavier University in Chicago, Concordia University and Dominican University in River Forest, Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, and more. With the Summer Institute, scholars receive up to 100 hours of extra teacher preparation with award-winning teachers and administrators outside of the teaching program at their university.

The assistance does not stop after graduation. Scholars must teach for 5 years in a school of need in Illinois after graduation, but Golden Apple assists scholars in finding a job. Each scholar receives a job coach to help them perfect their resumé and find a job in their desired region. Additionally, once scholars have a job, they receive a mentor to guide them through their first few years of teaching. In a sense, Golden Apple is always with you, and Golden Apple Scholars are always thankful for their teaching family.

The Golden Apple Scholarship is open to any Illinois residents interested in becoming a teacher. Students who will be a senior at an Illinois high school or a freshman or sophomore at a partner university in the 2016-2017 academic year can apply starting in August 2016. The application process involves a teacher or self-nomination, three essays, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and an interview for all finalists.

If interested, please visit the Golden Apple website at goldenapple.org and click on the “Golden Apple Scholars” tab in the menu. If you have any questions, you may refer to the website, contact me at jcross4@niu.edu, or University Liaison Margee Myles at mmyles@niu.edu.

– Jessica Cross

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