Two SESP Grads Named Golden Apple Award Semifinalists

Two SESP Grads Named Golden Apple Award Semifinalists

Chicago teachers Meg Burns (MS06) and Ronald Hale have been named semifinalists for the 2011 Golden Apple Award for Teaching Excellence. Both are graduates of the NU-TEACH alternative certification program.

Burns and Hale are two of 31 semifinalists selected by the Golden Apple Foundation from more than 600 nominees. This year, the Golden Apple Award focuses on teachers of grades 3 to 8 from Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and Will counties in Illinois.

Meg Burns
Burns teaches fifth grade at Gallistel Language Academy, a public elementary school on the Far South Side where 95 percent of the students qualify for free lunch. Not only is she admired as a teacher, but she has also been recognized as a researcher. In 2008, she received a grant through the Teachers Network Leadership Institute to follow up research for her SESP master’s project on the impact of teaching the arts combined with reading, and her classroom study on "The Art of Reading: A Look at Student Motivation, Self-Esteem, and Self-Perception When the Arts Are Integrated with Reading Curriculum" was published in a book about teacher research called The Missing Link.

"I cannot say enough about the profound impact that being a teacher-researcher has had on me. It is a gift to be able to self-assess as my children are learning. Keeping an introspective eye on my practices and more importantly, their effect on my children's learning, is the most valuable teaching tool for me as an educator," she says. Sophie Haroutunian-Gordon, director of the Master of Science in Education program, comments, "It is gratifying to hear our alumni voice their commitment to studying their practice — a value  they cultivate while pursuing the three-course Master's Project during the MSEd program. As Meg has learned, such ongoing scrutiny makes possible continual improvement as a teacher."

Michelle Jenkins, the elementary school coordinator for the NU-TEACH program, describes Burns as “an inspiration to all who know and work with her.”  Burns was also a finalist for the Golden Apple Award for Teaching Excellence in 2008.

Ron Hale
Hale teaches science to seventh and eighth graders at Chicago International Charter School–Avalon, a public K-8 charter school on the South Side of Chicago where 90 percent of the students are from low-income families. Hale, who completed the NU-TEACH program in 2009, employs aspects of technology and inquiry to enhance his science teaching. 

“He has developed a classroom of mutual respect and student discovery. He is amazing to watch in the classroom,” says Jenkins.

This spring all of the semifinalists will be visited in their classrooms by a team from the Golden Apple Foundation. In addition, semifinalists and their colleagues, administrators, parents, students and former students are interviewed. Ten Golden Apple Award recipients will be named in May.

One of the prizes for the 10 awardees is a tuition-free fall term at Northwestern University. The Golden Apple Award was created in 1985 to honor outstanding Chicago-area teachers.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 4/11/11