The Golden Apple Foundation was established in 1985 to honor and recognize those teachers in the state of Illinois who were the best in their field. Each year ten teachers receive the award and are recognized as Golden Apple Fellows. To give the teachers the respect that they had earned through their hard work the organization presented the ceremony as a formal "black tie" event in which they focused on the positive effect the teachers had in the life of their students. Three years after their initial creation the foundation created their Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois program. Since their inception over twenty years ago the foundation has grown to include many other programs, many of which are well known around the midwest and the entire country. Because all children deserve excellent teachers, the Golden Apple Foundation advances the teaching profession by: Recognizing excellent teachers Leveraging their thinking and efforts to improve education Recruiting and preparing prospective teachers with a special emphasis on schools of need Providing teachers access to innovative resources
 The Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois
Applicants can apply in April their junior year of High school until November their senior year of high school. They are asked several questions and need to respond in essay form. Applicants also have to turn in their ACT scores and high school transcripts. If these applicants are accepted into the scholars program, they will be known as traditional Golden Apple scholars. Applicants who are sophomores in college may also apply to the scholarship, these scholars are known as Pathway Scholars.
Applicants are requested to write seven essays about their desire to teach. Golden Apple award winners and directors read the applicant essays; the selection process is then narrowed down to an interview with the Golden Apple Fellows and directors. From there, the Golden Apple scholars are selected and attend an orientation and reception in honor of their accomplishment. The scholars then learn about what the Golden Apple Foundation has in store for their future.
Participating Schools and Universities
The Golden Apple Scholarship is a financial assist to students who want to teach for a career. Applying scholars must attend one of 53 college or universities listed below:
Chicago State University
Columbia College Chicago
Eastern Illinois University
Governors State University
Illinois Institute of Technology
Illinois State University
Illinois Wesleyan University
Lake Forest College
Loyola University Chicago
North Central College
North Park University
Northeastern Illinois University
Northern Illinois University
Olivet Nazarene University
Saint Xavier University
The School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Southern Illinois University-Carbondale
Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville
Trinity Christian College
University of Chicago
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
University of Illinois at Chicago
University of Illinois at Springfield
University of St. Francis
VanderCook College of Music
Western Illinois University
The scholarship gives financial aid for tuition with 2,500 per year for the first two years of college. Then for the last two years, the scholars receive 5,000 per year. Scholars who commit to teaching in areas of higher need may receive an additional $5,000. The scholarship requires that the perspective teacher commit to a school of need. The scholar must participate in the summer institute program at Depaul University and at Elmhurst College.
 Scholars' Commitment as Students
Scholars must commit five weeks of their first two collegiate summers to the summer institute program. Scholars attend DePaul University in Lincoln Park, Chicago for the five-week program and receive a $2000 stipend to attend the program. The summer institute program begins with introductions to the program and scheduled course work. It is the first week containing inclusive experiences, for example, team building activities with Reflective Seminar colleagues and friends. The first week entails regular classes such as College Success 101, Ethical Fitness, and Homeroom, these classes are taught by Golden Apple Fellows and teachers of recognition. In the following weeks of summer institute, the scholars are assigned to forty different Chicago public or private school sites. Scholars report to the bus at 6:30 every morning and come back at 12:00 in the afternoon. From there scholars have a lunch break until 1:00 and then attend their scheduled courses. They may or may not have assignments in those courses. The assignments are optional, however, the foundation highly recommends the scholars choose to complete the assignments. Every scholar is assigned a Reflective Seminar time and Golden Apple Fellow, where they discuss the teaching techniques they observe on the school site. They also talk amongst their colleagues about current events and how they would apply to a classroom setting. In Reflective, scholars listen to each other’s experience in the classroom and give feedback to each other to reflect upon and use in the classroom. Scholars do have free time where they may form bonds and schedule events together in the city of Chicago. The program ends in the fifth week with a closing ceremony, where scholars remember their experiences and tell them to parents and other scholars.
After the scholars go to summer institute for two summers, they then have a choice of how they spend their summer. Some scholars go overseas to help children in need; for example in Africa, there are scholars going to camps and helping those children. Other scholars choose to work at a summer day camp in their area or they choose to go to an overnight camp. In order to receive the same 2000-dollar stipend scholars must be at an overnight camp away from their hometown. The scholars still receive pay from their summer camp employers and from the Golden Apple foundation. If the scholar chooses to work in a summer day camp near their house then they will receive the camp’s pay and $1000 from Golden Apple.
During the fourth summer of a scholar’s collegiate career, they will attend Elmhurst College in Elmhurst. Here they will also receive the $2000 dollar stipend for attending. The scholars go through mock interviews with real principals and learn how to represent themselves during a school interview. They also get preparation for student teaching.
Scholars who applied during their sophomore year of college do attend the summer institute for two summers; this is because their first summer going into college as already passed. Pathway scholars also go straight from summer institute to the traditional fourth summer at Elmhurst. They do not have a third summer option to spend in a camp over seas.
Scholar's Commitment After Graduation
Scholars must commit five years out of eight years graduation from college to teaching in a school of need. A school of need is defined as falling under two categories: Economic Need and Academic Need.
Scholars may go to http://iirc.niu.edu/ and determine if a school is on the economic need list. If the school’s percentage of low-income students is greater than or equal to 30% then the school is to be considered as a school of need.
Also on the IIRC website the scholar can determine whether or not the school is on the academic need list. If the school’s test results show a combined percentage of students who met or were above state standards is less than or equal to 60% in two subject areas, then that school is considered a school of academic need.
Scholars need to maintain a grade point average of 2.5 to continue to receive financial aid in tuition. A scholar is given a chance to redeem themselves with academic probation for one semester of school, after that semester if the cumulative grade point average is not at a 2.5 or higher the scholar no longer receives financial aid. Scholars who do not fulfill the commitment of teaching in a school of need for five years with in the eight year time span, will have to pay back the scholarship to the Golden Apple foundation.
The acronym CORE stands for the "Center for Ongoing Renewal and Enrichment". The program was created to offer development, both personal and professional, for Golden Apple Scholars.It is a chance for friendship and professional growth among ones peers.
The four to five day conference is organized, planned and run by The Golden Apple Foundation. They plan the various events in an effort to meet the needs of classroom teachers.These conferences are open to all teaching professionals, it provides seminars and fosters team building exercises, time for thought, and exchange of teaching techniques to enhance each teachers classroom.
The acronym TEN stands for "Teaching Excellence Network". Golden Apple created this program to provide a free and easily accessible professional community for great teachers and teachers striving to become great.TEN serves as a place for thoughtful discussion about classroom practice, education policy activism, and educational philosophy. At TEN both new and experienced teachers can encounter discussions that will educate, inspire, and better them as teachers. To do this the site features various discussion boards, and blogs that are free for any teacher to comment on.
The GATE consultancy, once know as the GATE Program, is an alternative pathway to teacher preparation. It is primarily run by those who have received awards from the Golden Apple Foundation. The program has attracted a number of business professional into the teaching profession. By including business professionals the program is able to incorporate their differing experiences in the corporate world into the classroom.
The GATE program is highly selective and intensive, seeking adults who have received only certain degrees from established colleges and universities. After completing the program the few individuals selected will be recommended for teacher certification, and then have the ability to teach in a classroom.