Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois names Class of 2017

234 aspiring teachers were inducted at North Central College on Aug. 12

  • Two hundred and thirty-four aspiring teachers are inducted into the 2017 class of the Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois.

    Two hundred and thirty-four aspiring teachers are inducted into the 2017 class of the Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois. Courtesy of Golden Apple

  • From left, Andrew Engel of Channhon, Andrea Erazo of Aurora, Raelyn Erwin of Naperville, Elexis Findley of South Beloit, and Lauren Fitzanko of Pekin

    From left, Andrew Engel of Channhon, Andrea Erazo of Aurora, Raelyn Erwin of Naperville, Elexis Findley of South Beloit, and Lauren Fitzanko of Pekin Courtesy of Golden Apple

  • Aurora resident Sergio Tijerina

    Aurora resident Sergio Tijerina Courtesy of Golden Apple

  • Elgin resident Richard Childs

    Elgin resident Richard Childs Courtesy of Golden Apple

  • Crystal Lake resident Aaron Castaneda

    Crystal Lake resident Aaron Castaneda Courtesy of Golden Apple

  • Round Lake Heights resident Courtney Prais

    Round Lake Heights resident Courtney Prais Courtesy of Golden Apple

  • Bolingbrook resident Francis Yip

    Bolingbrook resident Francis Yip Courtesy of Golden Apple

  • Lake Zurich resident Katelyn Menas

    Lake Zurich resident Katelyn Menas Courtesy of Golden Apple

  • Hoffman Estates resident Maureen Black

    Hoffman Estates resident Maureen Black Courtesy of Golden Apple

  • Matteson resident Miriah Murphy

    Matteson resident Miriah Murphy Courtesy of Golden Apple

  • Glendale Heights resident Noor Maghrebi

    Glendale Heights resident Noor Maghrebi Courtesy of Golden Apple

  • Des Plaines resident Camille Wilczek

    Des Plaines resident Camille Wilczek Courtesy of Golden Apple

  • Wheeling resident Jacqueline Skup

    Wheeling resident Jacqueline Skup Courtesy of Golden Apple

  • Gurnee resident Kaylee Norman

    Gurnee resident Kaylee Norman Courtesy of Golden Apple

  • Grayslake resident Stephanie Lawrence

    Grayslake resident Stephanie Lawrence Courtesy of Golden Apple

Golden Apple
Updated 8/29/2017 11:59 AM

CHICAGO (August 12, 2017) -- Golden Apple proudly announces the induction of the 2017 class of the Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois program, a group of 234 dynamic young people who have chosen to dedicate themselves to a future career teaching students in Illinois schools-of-need.

Since its inception in 1989, the Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois program has grown to nearly 2,000 statewide participants. The program is uniquely designed to prepare future teachers to thrive in the most challenging high-needs school environments where more resilient teachers are desperately needed.


The program provides tuition assistance to each future teacher while they pursue an undergraduate education. Beginning the summer after high school graduation and continuing throughout their undergraduate years, Scholars benefit from multiple teaching internships, ongoing academic and career mentoring and course work on the art of teaching delivered by Golden Apple Award-winning teachers. When Scholars complete the program, they have acquired more than two times the classroom teaching experience garnered by traditionally-prepared teachers.

Golden Apple continues to support Scholars after they begin their teaching careers through ongoing mentoring and professional development. In return for the financial, academic, and professional development support that Golden Apple provides, Scholars agree to teach in a school-of-need in Illinois for five years following college graduation.

"We congratulate the class of 2017 Golden Apple Scholars as they embark on an exciting journey to become exceptional teachers and improve the educational outcomes for students in challenging school settings in Illinois," said Dominic Belmonte, Golden Apple CEO. "The intensive mentoring, with its focus in the classroom, uniquely prepares aspiring teachers to handle the many real-world challenges of teaching in high-need schools. As a result, Golden Apple Scholars are prepared to not only do the job with resilience, but to excel at it."

The Scholars program has been proven to profoundly improve persistence and graduation rates among participants. In addition, the program has been shown to have a significant impact on workforce development by helping low-income and underrepresented students gain necessary skill development for a lasting career in teaching. Evidence of the success of the Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois Program includes:

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• More than 1,000 Golden Apple Scholars are now teaching in more than 500 schools-of-need in Illinois;

• 82 percent of Scholars who enter teaching remain at least 5 years, compared with 55 percent statewide;

• More than 650,000 students in Illinois have been taught by Golden Apple Scholars since 1989.

The 2017 class of Scholars represents a diverse group of young people from across the state of Illinois with nearly half as first-generation college students, who are the first in the families to attend a four-year college, and nearly half are from underrepresented groups.

Full list of Golden Apple Scholars Class of 2017, including hometown and high school attended:


Addison Trail High School: Jeremy Sechan;


Alton High School: Samuel Frosch;

Arlington Heights:

John Hersey High School: Steven Custer;


East Aurora High School: Sergio Tijerina;

Oswego East High School: Mason Madalinski and Abby Mandel;

West Aurora High School: Andrea Erazo;



Barrington High School: Lindsay Olesen;


Central Community High School: Hannah Rickhoff;


Bartlett High School: Chelsea Lenart;


Beardstown High School: Emma White;


Proviso West High School: Annabel Calderon and Devon Jackson;


Fenton High School: Arturo Alfaro;


Normal Community High School: Andrew Martin;

Blue Island:

Dwight D. Eisenhower High School: Liliana Campos;


Neuqua Valley High School: Francis Yip;


Central Community High School: Lindsey Rakers;


Reavis High School: Giselle Campos and Maggie Mazur;

Calumet Park:

Harold L. Richards High School: Kyliah May;


Prairie Ridge High School: Stephanie Perez;


Centralia High School: Cameron Nollman;


Minooka Community High School: Andrew Engel;


Back of the Yards College Preparatory High School: Veronica Gonzalez, Veronica Yesenia Gonzalez, Shamarah Johnson and Marco Vazquez;

Catalyst Maria High School: Taylor Brady;

Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences: Audrey Johnson and Leah Wideman;

Cristo Rey Jesuit High School: Idalia Heredia;

Curie Metropolitan High School: Clara Martinez, Chuill Murillo and Juan Sandoval;

De La Salle Institute: Matthew Carroll;

EPIC Academy Charter High School: Chrisford Fausta;

Eric Solorio Academy High School: Karen Damian and Omar Sanchez;

George Washington High School: Juliana Hernandez;

George Westinghouse College Prep: Genesis Robinson;

Golder College Prep: Kelly Watrach;

Gordon Technical/ DePaul College Prep: Benjamin Wyatt;

Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep: Tyler Frazier;

Holy Trinity High School: Lucia Giron;

Infinity Math, Science, and Technology High School: Jennifer Juarez and Jordi Rosado;

Jones College Prep High School: Abby Dizon;

Lane Technical College Prep High School: Dalia Arroyo, Haley Cronin, Magen Higgs and Paulina Rosales;

Lincoln Park High School: Adyson Garza and Grace Negron;

Little Village Lawndale High School: Oscar Parada Campos;

Marist High School: Anna Senteno;

Marine Leadership Academy: Tremaine Harris;

Morgan Park High School: Kapri Dowdell;

Muchin College Prep: Crystal Pintor and Mileena Cannella;

Nicholas Senn High School: Azra Imperial;

Noble Street College Prep: Amanda Navarro

Robert Lindblom Math & Science Academy: Alyssa Diaz, Ruby Diaz, Shelby Grant, and Victoria Susberry;

King College Prep: Araiyah Willis;

St. Ignatius College prep: Ella Silvers;

Thomas Kelly High School: Crystal Adan;

UCSN Major Hector P. Garcia MD High School: Christopher Cano;

Von Steuben Metropolitan High School: Maya Gonzalez and Xiomara Ramirez;

Walter Payton College Prep: Leo Sanchez and Flora Zayas;

Wendell Phillips Academy High School: Leoncio Montgomery;


J. Sterling Morton East High School: Diana Rodriguez and Vasti Carrera;

Cristo Rey Jesuit High School: Omar Salazar;

Coal Valley:

Orion High School: Estelle Higdon;


Geneseo High School: Ava Monson;


Collinsville High School: Paige Philpott;

Crystal Lake:

Crystal Lake Central High School: Aaron Castaneda;

Crystal Lake South High School: Annelise Hemesath;


Knoxville High School: Hannah Sunderland;


DeKalb High School: Colette LeBlanc;

Des Plaines:

Maine West High School: Ryan Bien Dela Cruz, Miranda Gonzalez and Camille Wilczek;


Edwardsville High School: Meghan Brakhane;


Elgin High School: Richard Childs;

Elk Grove Village:

James B. Conant High School: Esther Cho;

Elk Grove High School: Andrea Flores;


York Community High School: Simran Gogana, Alexa Menolascino and Maria Perez;


Eureka High School: Danielle Brittain;


Maroa Forsyth High School: Alysa Ashby;

Franklin Park:

West Leyden High School: Jonathan Alioto and Daniela Lucero;


Lincoln-Way East High School: Abigail Panozzo;


Freeburg Community High School: Kaili Marriner;


Illini Bluffs High School: Alexis Brown;

Glen Ellyn:

Glenbard West High School: John Dugan;

Glenbard South High School: Breanna Graf;

Glendale Heights:

Glenbard North High School: Noor Maghrebi;


Glenbrook South High School: Katherine Cavender;


Alton High School: Claire Gorman;


Grayslake North High School: Stephanie Lawrence and Gina Singleton;

Green Valley:

Delavan High School: Abigail Green;


Warren Township High School: Grace Attiyeh and Kaylee Norman;


United Township High School: Karlee Stapf;

Hanover Park:

Hoffman Estates High School: Joshua Bost;


Harvard High School: Cosette Nawrocki;


Thornton Township High Schools: Calia Brooks;

Hawthorn Woods:

Lake Zurich High School: Brianne Saab;

Homer Glen:

Lockport Township High School: Jessica Blanchard;


Homewood-Flossmoor Community High School: Ann Reilly;

Hoffman Estates:

James B. Conant High School: Amber Clark;


Lake Park High School: Kaitlin Collins


Joliet Central High School: Jeffrey Humphrey and Sara Koziol

Joliet West High School: Justize Gottman and Jonah Klima;


Kankakee High School: Alexis Young;

Lake Zurich:

Lake Zurich High School: Katelyn Menas;


Charleston High School: Makena Hanner;


Lakes Community High School: Alexandra Adkins;


Mahomet Seymour High School: Evan Scott and Sydney Young;


Manteno High School: Jamie Carroll and Anne Murphy;


Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep: Miriah Murphy;


Mattoon High School: Mayla Johanpeter;


Proviso Math and Science Academy: Akeelah Taylor;


McHenry High School West Campus: Brittany Clough;

McHenry High School East: Emily Garcia and Matthew Wolkober;


Olympia High School: Hannah While;


Joliet West High School: Itzel Gomez;


Lincoln-Way East High School: Robin Testa;


Geneva High School: Hollie Donovan;

Morton Grove:

Niles West High School: Lauren Gummo;

Mount Prospect:

Prospect High School: Dayna Laffey;


Central A&M High School: Maggie Neilson;


Metea Valley High School: Stephanie Thomas;

Naperville North High School: Andrea Du and Maya Ross;

Naperville Central High School: Raelyn Erwin;

Neuqua Valley High School: Radha Patel;

New Lenox:

Lincoln-Way West High School: Valerie Avalos;

Lincoln-Way Central High School: Madison Nordstrom;


Maine East High School: Nicole Hembree;

North Riverside:

Riverside Brookfield Township High School: Kiera Donnamario;

Oak Forest:

Oak Forest High School: Kalli Lambros;

Oak Lawn:

Oak Lawn Community High School: Julia Kasprzak and Sarah Sinner;

Harold L. Richards High School: Aileen Kuypers;

Oak Park:

Fenwick High School: Brianna McCormick;


Richland County High School: Lauren Eagleson;

East Richland High School: Jordan Morris;


Oregon High School: Ellen Reckamp;

Orland Park:

Carl Sandburg High School: Jacob Schab;


Oswego High School: Katelyn Beamish;

Jenna McLaughlin, Oswego, Oswego High School;

Amanda Moore, Montgomery, Oswego High School;

Elizabeth Zatorski, DeKalb, Oswego East High School;


Palatine High School: Kelly Gimmler and Madeline Plesnicar;

Palos Hills:

Amos Alonzo Stagg High School: Jordan SooHoo;

Palos Park:

Amos Alonzo Stagg High School: Andrew Alexander and Abby Hill;

Park Ridge:

Maine East High School: John Maltese-Miller;


Pawnee High School: Andrea Condon;


Pekin Community High School: Lauren Fitzanko;


Peoria High School: Isaiah Wickware;


Pinckneyville Community High School: Phoebe Issler;


Plainfield North High School: Natalie Berlin and Mary Pat Robey;

Plainfield South High School: Lauren Anhalt, Karen Gomez and Margaret Klebenow;


Yorkville High School: Stephanie Kasper;


Princeton High School: Meghan Duffin;

Rock Island:

Rock Island High School: Elaina Quilty and Evan Wignall;


Guilford High School: Ashley Romero, Haley Sommer and Bryce Thomas;

Rolling Meadows:

Rolling Meadows High School: Gabrielle Frank, Elizabeth Hardt and Jocelyn McHugh;

Round Lake:

Round Lake High School: Michael Crisantos;

Round Lake Heights:

Round Lake High School: Courtney Prais;

Saint Joseph:

Weatherford High School: Taylor Zaccarelli;


Schaumburg High School: Alexis Setterstrom;

Schiller Park

Holy Trinity High School: Kenneth Munoz;


Stewardson-Strasburg High School: Olivia Gratz;


Niles North High School: Nina Codell, Hannah Doherty, Aleksandra Goman, Skokie, Elida Newton, Ayesha Riaz, and Carissa Yau;

South Beloit:

Hononegah Community High School: Elexis Findley;

Harlem High School: Savanah Wylde;

South Holland:

Thornwood High School: Brooke Bryant;


Pawnee High School: Faith Gresham;

Sacred Heart-Griffin High School: Matthew Keane;

Pleasant Plains High School: Michaela Noblet;


J. Sterling Morton West High School: Viviana Mendoza;


Hoffman Estates High School: Maureen Black;


Argo Community High School: Karen Garcia and Miguel Uribe Lopez;


Du Quoin High School: KyLee Sizemore;

Tinley Park:

Amos Alonzo Stagg High School: Grace Garbrecht;

Tinley Park High School: Jessica D'Amico;

Victor J. Andrew High School: Christina Kurek;


Tremont High School: Benjamin Prather;


Triad High School: Tessa Kleinschmidt and Morgan Thompson;

Villa Park:

Willowbrook High School: Molly Hill and Hunter Sparks;


North Mac High School: Grant Graham;


Wauconda Community High School: Rosalia Flores;

West Dundee:

Dundee-Crown High School: Kaitlyn Helminski;


Wheaton North High School: Halley Fogerty;


Wheeling High School: Abigail Cozariuc and Jacqueline Skup;


Queen of Peace High School: Elizabeth Cerullo;

Alan B. Shepard High School: Hailey Pezdek;


Yorkville High School: Anna Halsey and Alicia Rosier;

About Golden Apple

2017 marks Golden Apple's 32nd year of innovating teacher preparation and leadership to transform both the careers of teachers as well as the lives of students in Illinois. Many of our Golden Apple Award recipients give back by participating as instructors, academic coaches, and mentors in both our aspiring teachers program (i.e., "The Golden Apple Scholars") and our professional development program (i.e., "The Golden Apple STEM Institute").

Because the critical contributor to student achievement is the quality of the teacher in the classroom, Golden Apple provides exceptional teacher preparation for teachers at all stages of their careers. Our focus is on advancing educational excellence for Illinois' most underserved students. Scholars are recruited from the communities in which they return to serve -- with a passion for teaching and a drive to create positive change for young people in their communities. We enhance their college education with exemplary advanced teacher preparation, superior resources and lifelong support, and, they, in turn, stay in teaching at a school-of-need in Illinois for five or more years. Over 600 Scholars are currently preparing to become teachers in schools-of-need throughout Illinois.

Golden Apple is comprised of recognized superior educators, including Golden Apple Award recipients and finalists, leading a passionate team of devoted staff with technical and program expertise, as well as a connected and committed board of directors charged with overseeing our strategic vision. Visit for more information.