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updated: 3/28/2012 12:57 PM

Nine Northwest suburban students named Golden Apple Scholars

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  • Lizbeth Arreola

    Lizbeth Arreola

  • Deena Davis

    Deena Davis

  • Michelle Issen

    Michelle Issen

  • Maya Lane

    Maya Lane

  • Patricia LeGrand

    Patricia LeGrand

  • Leslie Martin

    Leslie Martin

  • Benjamin Reiff

    Benjamin Reiff

  • Jae Eun Shin

    Jae Eun Shin

  • Leah Urias

    Leah Urias


Golden Apple has selected a record 135 Illinois high school students whom it will groom to be the top teachers of the future. Eight of them are from the Northwest suburbs.

Golden Apple will shower the students with $23,000 in financial aid over the next four years to attend an Illinois university, but perhaps more important, it will provide related guidance, mentoring and training.

A key component is a six-week session each summer where they spend half the day observing in the classroom and half the day learning how to be great teachers.

"They see things they would like to emulate and things that they close their eyes in horror," said Dominic Belmonte, CEO of Golden Apple.

In return for the assistance, the students commit to teaching five years in an Illinois school of need, where the program provides them with help in how to deal with students, parents, fellow teachers and administrators.

"Our work continues through college and into their teaching careers," Belmonte said.

The Northwest suburban students selected from among 1,285 nominees are: Lizbeth Arreola, of Palatine and Palatine High School; Deena Davis of Hoffman Estates and Barrington High School; Michelle Issen of Wheeling and Wheeling High School; Maya Lane of Roselle and Conant High School; Patricia LeGrand of River Grove and East Leyden High School; Leslie Martin of Barrington and Barrington High School; Benjamin Reiff of Wheeling and Wheeling High School; Jae Eun Shin of Schaumburg and Conant High School; and Leah Urias of Des Plaines and Maine West High School.

Of the students who are named scholars, 83 percent complete college, and 91 percent of those complete or exceed the five-year service requirement, Belmonte said.

The scholars are 60 percent minority and 35 percent low income. Of black students, 75 percent graduate and of Hispanic students 78 percent graduate, rates that are several times those for all black and Hispanic students, he said.

"This blows out of the water any other program," he said, citing as an example Teach for America.

Golden Apple, founded 23 years ago, gets its funding from the state, corporations and individuals.

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