NU-TEACH Grad Rosalind Kline-Thomas Wins Golden Apple Award

NU-TEACH Grad Rosalind Kline-Thomas Wins Golden Apple Award

Rosalind Kline-Thomas
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As Rosalind Kline-Thomas was showing a PowerPoint presentation to her algebra students on a rainy May day, representatives from the Golden Apple Foundation burst into her classroom to surprise her with the Golden Apple Award for Teaching Excellence. Her students cheered.

A mathematics teacher at Michele Clark Academic Prep High School on the West Side of Chicago, Kline-Thomas is a graduate of the School of Education and Social Policy's NU-TEACH alternative certification program and a current student in the Master of Science in Education program. A former corporate buyer and engineering major, she was able to change careers through the NU-TEACH program and received the prestigious Golden Apple Award in only her second year of teaching.

"Teaching is what I always wanted to do," says Kline-Thomas, hugging her family and wiping away tears. "I learned it's not about the dollar -- it's about what makes you happy, and this makes me happy." She is one of 10 Golden Apple honorees, all high school teachers, who were selected from a pool of 562 nominees. NU-TEACH graduate Paul Karafiol, a mathematics teacher at Walter Payton High School, was named a Teacher of Distinction.

Kline-Thomas's students speak of her in glowing terms, remarking about the fact that she gives them her cell phone number so they can consult about problems, both mathematical and personal. They describe her as "fun," "happy" and "exciting," and they appreciate the PowerPoint presentations she makes to help them grasp new concepts. "She's got a unique teacher style," says one student. "It's my favorite class."

In turn, she speaks of her students as her inspiration and teaching as her passion. "I eat, sleep and drink these kids," she says. How does she make algebra fun? "I'll do everything from dancing to bringing in a rap," she says.

Sylvia Smith-DeMuth and Rosalind Kline-Thomas
Sylvia Smith-DeMuth (left), director of the NU-TEACH program, says, "Having two NU-TEACH teachers nominated for Golden Apple awards in the same year is phenomenal." Of Kline-Thomas she says, "Her passion and dedication to teaching was evident from the beginning -- so much so that she received a $5,000 Scott Fellowship."

In the words of Carolyn Cyriaque, assistant director of Teaching Scholars and a 1996 Golden Apple Award winner who led the full-day observation in Kline-Thomas's class, "Rosalind Kline-Thomas is passionate about her teaching, and it's visible in everything she does. Due to her methods of teaching algebra, her students scored the highest in Area 17 on the Carnegie Test. All learners in her classes are treated with respect and are challenged to reach their fullest potential."  

The Golden Apple Foundation describes what makes Kline-Thomas's teaching unique: "Making learning algebra fun, Rosalind Kline-Thomas combines popular songs recognized by her students and substitutes the original lyrics with helpful hints for working with algebraic formulas. ... Establishing mentorships with her students holds the same importance as the content of mathematics. Rosalind does not consider her role solely as a teacher of mathematics, but also has a responsibility to teach her classrooms to be better students, leaders and friends."

Kline-Thomas holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a bachelor's in mathematics from Spelman College.

Paul Karafiol, who received a Teacher of Distinction Award, teaches mathematics at Walter Payton High School. Smith DeMuth says, "He is one of the most gifted mathematicians I've had the pleasure to work with over the years." He achieved National Board Certification in 2007 and has coached the Payton math team to several state wins. He created the school's student development program, was an initial sponsor of the Gay-Straight Alliance, and created and continues to supervise the school's peer mentoring program. He is the author of two mathematics textbooks and the head author of the national American Regions Mathematics League competition. He is a director on the board of the Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics and serves on the appeals committee at the state math contest. He has spoken at a variety of local and national conferences.

Karafiol holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Harvard University and a master's in philosophy and logic from the University of Chicago. He was a mathematics instructor at both Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, and Providence-St. Mel School in Chicago before joining the NU-TEACH program.

"Both teachers are tremendous assets to teaching and education as a profession. I know that the Northwestern faculty and staff who work with NU-TEACH and our partners including Golden Apple, Chicago Teaching Fellows and Inner-City Teaching Corps are also pleased to see their contributions as educators, and the talent they recognized early on, being fully realized in these teachers," notes Smith-DeMuth.

Golden Apple has recognized outstanding Chicago-area educators annually since 1986. Each Golden Apple Award recipient receives a tuition-free, six-month sabbatical to study at Northwestern University and a $3,000 cash award. Golden Apple teachers become fellows of the Golden Apple Academy of Educators, providing a larger stage from which to make an impact, through ongoing professional development and engagement in education reform.

The recipients of the 2010 Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching will be honored at a black-tie event on October 15 at WTTW/Channel 11 Studios in Chicago. WTTW will also broadcast the awards in a one-hour television program following the event.

Golden Apple accepts nominations for the Awards each fall. Eligible teachers must be full-time classroom teachers at public or non-public schools in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake or Will counties and be committed to continue teaching in Illinois for at least two subsequent years.

Distinguished retired teachers, college/university professors, administrators and former Golden Apple Award winners serve on Golden Apple's selection committee. Committee members apply research-based professional standards to identify teachers who exemplify the highest standards and practices of the teaching profession. The selection process includes classroom observations of all award finalists and interviews with colleagues, supervisors, students and parents.  

Read the Chicago Tribune article

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 5/20/10