Golden Apple inducts 30 soon-to-be teachers into its accelerator program, aims to combat the teacher shortage crisis

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CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WMBD) — Golden Apple, a leading Illinois nonprofit committed to preparing, supporting, and mentoring aspiring teachers, announced Monday that it inducted 30 future teachers into the inaugural class of the organization’s Accelerator’s Program.

The Accelerator’s Program is a teacher residency and licensure program that is expediting the preparation of highly-qualified teachers in areas of the state most in need, in southern, central, and western Illinois.

“They go through a 15-month residency program where they are placed at a school, typically in the place where they come from, and at the same time, they’re going through coursework,” said Alan Mather, President of Golden Apple. “This year [it’s] all online with either Blackburn College or Eastern Illinois University and at the end of the year, they come out as fully licensed teachers.”

Golden Apple announced the program in December to address Illinois’ teacher shortage crisis and help fill critical positions throughout our state. In fact, at the start of last school year, 1,800 educator positions went unfilled. Accelerators commit to teaching in that partner school district for at least four years.

“This inaugural class of Accelerators will, over the next year, be readying themselves to enter the classroom in schools across southern, central, and western Illinois and start chipping away at the teacher shortage crisis facing districts across the state,” said Mather. “Through the work of our Scholars program, Golden Apple has been working for more than 30 years to prepare future educators and this program is a great complement to this work as we look to resolve the teacher shortage.”

Over the next academic year, participants will continue their coursework at Blackburn College or Eastern Illinois University, while also participating in a teacher residency program in their partner school district four days each week. Accelerators have been placed at several schools across Illinois with some schools receiving multiple accelerators:

  • South Fork Junior/Senior High School (Kincaid)
  • Stephen Decatur Middle School (Decatur)
  • American Dreamers STEM Academy (Decatur)
  • ACE Greene School (White Hall)
  • Greenview Junior/Senior High School (Greenview)
  • Vandalia Elementary School (Vandalia)
  • Dr. Nick Osborne Primary Center (Mount Vernon)
  • Centralia High School (Centralia) 2 accelerators
  • Ben-Gil Elementary School (Gillespie)
  • Gillespie High School (Gillespie)
  • Gillespie Middle School (Gillespie)
  • Carl Sandburg Middle School (Freeport)
  • Richland County Elementary School (Olney)
  • Rushville-Industry High School (Rushville) 2 accelerators
  • North Ward Elementary (Tuscola)
  • Thome School/Bi-County Special Education Cooperative (Rock Falls)
  • Patoka High School (Patoka)
  • Northview Elementary School (Peru)
  • Tri-Point High School (Cullom)
  • Cahokia High School (Cahokia)
  • Hutsonville High School (Hutsonville)
  • Washington Elementary School (Sterling)
  • Challand Middle School (Sterling) 2 accelerators
  • Southside Elementary School (Morrison)
  • Deer Creek-Mackinaw High School (Mackinaw)
  • Carl Sandburg Elementary School (Charleston)
  • Charleston High School (Charleston)

During the summer of 2021, participants will complete any necessary final steps to meet Illinois State Board of Education licensure requirements and will begin teaching in their own classrooms at the start of the 2021/2022 academic year.

“Golden Apple is in a position today to make a meaningful impact on Illinois’ teacher shortage crisis thanks to support from both Governor Pritzker and the Illinois General Assembly,” said Alicia Winckler, CEO of Golden Apple.

“They recognize the urgency associated with this crisis and we are very grateful that they have put their faith in Golden Apple to carry out this important work. In these uncertain times, we must remain committed to ensuring that children throughout the state, regardless of where they live or their income, have access to well-prepared and highly effective teachers so that students may reach their full potential.”

After this pilot year of the Accelerators program, Golden Apple strives to expand and partner with more districts across Illinois to introduce even more teachers into high-need schools and subject areas.

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