CPS principal, five other city teachers surprised with Golden Apple awards

The six educators received honors from the Golden Apple Foundation, including Kenwood Academy High School’s principal, who was surprised to learn she’d won the leadership award Friday.

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Alan Mather (left), president of the Golden Apple Foundation, with Kenwood Academy Principal Karen Calloway on Friday at the South Side high school, where she was surprised with a Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Leadership.

Alan Mather (left), president of the Golden Apple Foundation, with Kenwood Academy Principal Karen Calloway on Friday at the South Side high school, where she was surprised with a Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Leadership.

Provided/Golden Apple Foundation

Karen Calloway, the principal of Kenwood Academy High School, arrived at her school Friday with a plan to celebrate the senior class for receiving a combined $67 million in scholarships this year.

But something felt off.

“I couldn’t figure it out,” Calloway told the Sun-Times later in the day.

Instead, Calloway learned she was the one being honored when she saw Alan Mather, president of the Golden Apple Foundation.

“I was shocked,” Calloway said of being presented with a prestigious Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Leadership.

The award, given to two school leaders in Illinois this year out of 130 nominations, honors “exemplary performance in school leadership by a principal,” the foundation said.

Karen Calloway (third from right), principal of Kenwood Academy, with the check she received as part of the Excellence in Leadership award.

Karen Calloway (third from right), principal of Kenwood Academy, with the check she received as part of the Excellence in Leadership award.

Provided/Golden Apple Foundation

Kathleen Lopez Rodriguez from Charter Oak Primary Academy in Peoria was this year’s other recipient.

Calloway, a lifelong South Side resident, has been principal of Kenwood Academy for five years. She started in education as a guidance counselor, then held several other positions before becoming an assistant principal, and finally, principal.

“I’ve never really picked jobs,” she said. “I’ve just kind of always was invited or I fell into them because I really just wanted to work with kids.”

The Hyde Park resident plans to stay at Kenwood, where she’s worked for 20 years.

Calloway said she never imagined she’d getting an award from the Golden Apple Foundation, which is also known for giving scholarships to students who go into education.

“I never, never, never thought I’d win one,” Calloway said, laughing. She was “humbled and extremely flattered” to be in the company of others who’ve won, including a previous Kenwood Academy principal.

The award includes a $5,000 award for Calloway, as well as a $5,000 for a project of her choice that will benefit her school.

Calloway said she was considering putting the money toward helping her students with access to post-secondary education but also noted the school’s dance studio could use a renovation.

Calloway wasn’t the only Chicago-area educator who won an award from the foundation this week.

Latavia Hinton, an eighth grade teacher at Daniel Boone Elementary School in West Ridge, was surprised with a Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching on Thursday, which comes with a $5,000 award and a spring sabbatical provided by Northwestern University.

Four other Chicago teachers also received the excellence in teaching award: Rick Coppola and Helen Chan, both of South Loop Elementary School; Anquineice Brown of Marquette Elementary; and Rachel Werderits of Saint Andrew School.

Mariah Rush is a staff reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times via Report for America, a not-for-profit journalism program that aims to bolster the paper’s coverage of communities on the South Side and West Side.

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