Jamaican-born Teacher in Chicago Wins Prestigious Award for Excellence in Teaching

Jamaican-born Teacher in Chicago Wins Prestigious Award for Excellence in Teaching - Michael Stewart

Michael Stewart, a teacher at LEARN South Chicago, has been honored with the highly-coveted Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching. The prestigious award was presented at Stewart’s home by Golden Apple President, Alan Mather, in the presence of the school’s principal, his colleagues, and family members.

As a Golden Apple Award winner and master educator, Stewart will receive a $5,000 cash award and a spring sabbatical from Northwestern University. He also becomes a fellow of the Golden Apple Academy of Educators that provides mentoring for current and future instructors.

Stewart teaches 7th and 8th grade math and social studies at the school. He’s also a basketball coach and the creator an inter-network academic bowl across nine schools for high-performing students.

He was among a select group of 10 teachers singled out for the 2020 award. The award-winning teacher from Jamaica grew up in Evanston and Rogers Park, IL. He attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and first considered a career as an attorney. He even interned at a Chicago law firm during his junior year.

Teaching runs in the family, though – his mother and sister are both educators – but it was a field trip the Cook County Jail as a student that was a pivotal point in his life. It was at the jail that he encountered a former friend that he played basketball with incarcerated there.

Steward applied for a teaching position at Evanston Township after graduation. He became a teaching assistant within a Caribbean academic program and it was there that he found his ideal mentor in the person of a first-generation Jamaican-American that was married to the program’s director.

While Stewart could easily go on to an administrative position as many others have done, he prefers the classroom. He hopes to bring more black men into the education system as classroom teachers instead of traditional positions such as administration or physical education instructors.

This was the first time that the award has been presented at a teacher’s home. Adjustments had to be made due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Stewart and nine others were chosen for the Golden Apple Award from among 730 nominated teachers in grades 4-8, across 64 Illinois counties.

Information and Photo Source: Golden Apple Award

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Delano George Bell