Thanksgiving 2020 will have a different feel to it than years past. Like everything else, the holidays and traditions we hold dear will be changed by the pandemic.
But as we take stock of this year, there is still so much for which to be thankful. This week, as we have for the past few years, we will highlight work being done in our state for which we are grateful.
Today, we are thankful for the dedicated work of Golden Apple. You may have heard of their Golden Apple Awards given each year to incredible teachers and school leaders, but their work extends far beyond recognizing amazing educators.
Golden Apple is committed to making a material difference in Illinois’ teacher shortage. And like everything else, the pandemic has made an impact on that, too. The Prairie State has nearly 2,000 unfilled teaching positions. Small, rural districts are particularly hard-hit, and Illinois also faces a shortage of strong, diverse teachers.
This is where Golden Apple makes a difference. Its Scholars program provides preparation and tuition assistance to high school seniors and Illinois college freshman and sophomores who have the drive to be great teachers for students who need them the most.
Not only do Scholars receive tuition assistance, but Golden Apple helps with training and classroom experience, academic and social-emotional supports, job placement, and mentoring. These wraparound supports help ensure Scholars’ success as teachers; indeed, 82% who enter teaching remain in the field for at least five years, a testament to their preparation and determination to help Illinois students.
Golden Apple’s Accelerators program addresses the teacher shortage from another angle by providing a path to teaching for individuals looking at a career change or college seniors who commit to living and teaching in targeted districts in western, central, or southern Illinois. The program is additive to the teacher pipeline; recruiting, preparing, and mentoring those who will make a difference for students who need it most.
Illinois’ teacher shortage crisis is truly an all-hands-on-deck situation, and Golden Apple has stepped up to do its part. We are incredibly grateful for their work to get quality teachers into classrooms across our state, making an impact on students for generations to come.
Stay tuned throughout the week as we discuss more work we are thankful for!