Local Golden Apples, transgender teacher in Hyde Park school news

Kenwood student awarded Golden Apple Scholarship: Kenwood, 5015 S. Blackstone Ave.

Kenwood Academy High School student Jermecia Trenell was selected as a 2014 Golden Apple Scholar.

Trenell was one of 175 scholars to receive Golden Apple Scholarships from The Golden Apple Scholars of Illinois Program.

The program is designed to prepare future teachers to thrive in the most challenging high-needs school environments where more resilient teachers are desperately needed. Recently, Chicago Public Schools approved a $1 million agreement with the Golden Apple Scholars program to provide 150 additional new teachers on top of the program’s annual state-supported cohorts, during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years.

As a part of the scholars program, students will receive financial assistance for four years to attend one of 53 public and private universities in the state of Illinois, participate in professional development programs that include teaching internships and enhanced teacher preparation each summer and receive continual mentoring by Golden Apple Award-winning teachers.

In order to participate in the program, scholars must agree to teach for five years in an Illinois school of need, which is a school that serves low-income students or has below-standard test scores.

Lab and Ancona teachers are Golden Apple Award finalists: University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, 1362 E. 59th St. and The Ancona School, 4770 S. Dorchester Ave.

Two Hyde Park teachers have been announced as finalists for the Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching. The Golden Apple Foundation recognizes and honors outstanding teachers for their role in building a stronger, better-educated society.

Kristen Frank, 5th grade teacher at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, 1362 E. 59th St., and Bill Singerman 7th and 8th grade teacher at The Ancona School, 4770 S. Dorchester Ave., are two of 32 finalists for the Golden Apple Award. Frank and Singerman were selected from a pool of 620 nominations and 272 applicants represent 4th through 8th grade teachers throughout the Chicago area. The finalists will participate in a final round of review and observations.

A Celebration of Excellence in honor of the 32 finalists will be held on April 19th at the Chicago O’Hare Marriott. The foundation’s selection of the 10 award recipients will be announced in May.

Each Golden Apple Award recipient receives a tuition-free, spring quarter sabbatical to study at Northwestern University, a $5,000 cash award and become Fellows of the Golden Apple Academy of Educators.

Transgender Murray teacher recognized for her advocacy work: Murray, 5335 S. Kenwood Ave.

Murray Elementary School teacher Jess Scott Celimene-Rowell received recognition for her work as an advocate for the transgender community, March 29 at the Center on Halsted’s Human First gala. Rowell, who is known at the school as Mr. Jeff Rowell, has made the transition from man to transgender woman.

At the gala, which was attended by Gov. Pat Quinn and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Rowell was recognized for her volunteer work as the transgender community liaison for the center, 3656 N. Halsted St., a non-profit dedicated to helping the LGBTQ people in the Chicago area. Rowell, a former chef, has revitalized the center’s programs for the transgender community by hosting monthly spaghetti dinners and a transgender support group.

For the past two years Rowell, who will legally change her name to Jess Scott Celimene-Rowell this summer, has been taking hormone therapy to align her body and mind to the female gender. This past year she has also transitioned to painting her nails and wearing feminine clothing.

With March 31 being named International Transgender Day of Visibility by the Human Rights Campaign many stories like Rowell’s have been featured in the news. In her interviews Rowell said the large number of transgender men and women who commit suicide because they’ve been rejected by family and friends concerns her. She wants to show others that it’s OK to be transgender or question one’s gender.

The Hyde Park resident, who has been married for 12 years and has three children with her wife, said she’s received positive responses from family and the students and the principal at Murray, 5335 S. Kenwood Ave., during her transition.