October 01, 2019

SIU has five Golden Apple Scholars in 2019

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Five Southern Illinois University Carbondale students have been selected for statewide recognition as 2019 Golden Apple Scholars.

The Golden Apple Scholars program is a non-profit Illinois teacher preparation and tuition assistance program providing additional mentoring, support and help to prepare high school seniors and college freshmen and sophomores for careers as educators.

Saluki Golden Scholars

SIU’s 2019 Golden Apple Scholars, listed by hometown with year and major, are:


  • Anna Birsa, a junior foreign language/Spanish major. Normal West High School graduate.

Du Quoin

  • Chloe Hill, sophomore mathematics major and fall 2019 transfer student from John A. Logan College. Du Quoin High School graduate.
  • Emily Varner, a sophomore English major and 2018 transfer student from John A. Logan College. Du Quoin High School graduate.

Good Hope

  • Megan Taylor, a freshman agriculture education major, fall 2019 transfer student from Carl Sandburg College. West Prairie High School graduate.


  • Teresa Ludington, a freshman music education major and Newton High School graduate.

“These candidates could go to any university in the state and they chose SIU. This is further evidence of the strong positive reputation our teacher preparation has earned across the state,” Nancy Mundschenk, director of SIU’s Teacher Education Program, said.

SIU’s long affiliation

SIU’s connection to the Golden Apple Scholars program goes back a long way. The university has worked with Golden Apple since 1993.

“The financial support Golden Apple provides has made it possible for dozens of aspiring teachers to attend SIU and ultimately enter the teaching profession,” Mundschenk said. “This collaboration is especially timely as we work to address the teacher shortage in rural areas of Illinois, and we are very happy to welcome this group of Golden Apple Scholars to our teacher preparation program.”

In addition to financial assistance, the Golden Apple program  provides mentorship and other opportunities for participants, including Scholar Institutes each summer. During these institutes, the scholars teach in classrooms, working directly with students under the guidance of award-winning Golden Apple teachers and expert partner organizations.

Need for teachers is great

Throughout the state of Illinois, hundreds of teaching jobs are unfilled. The shortage is especially prevalent in rural and urban school districts and in the special education, English Language Learners (ELL) and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.

The goal of the Golden Apple Program is to assure participating pre-service teachers are prepared and ready to succeed in challenging school environments.

“Because these scholars make a commitment to teach in a school-of-need after they graduate, they will be contributing directly to the goal – the moral imperative -- that all children have access to a highly effective teacher and therefore, to a quality education,” Mundschenk said.

SIU addressing teacher shortage in multiple ways

Working with the Golden Apple program is just one of the many ways SIU is working to address the growing teacher shortage in Illinois.

SIU is also part of the Scaling Education Pathways in Illinois (SEPI) program which is providing funding to seven communities to implement an initiative streamlining career pathways for prospective teachers. This program allows participating high school students in several partner high school districts to earn special micro-credentials on their high school diplomas while also earning college credits toward a teaching degree. Mentoring, an active extracurricular organization and other components are also part of this program.

To learn more about how to start a teaching career at SIU

Founded as a teacher’s college in 1869, SIU has a long history of preparing teachers to make a difference in their classrooms and their communities. For more information about SIU’s Teacher Education Program, visit https://teachereducation.siu.edu/, email tep@siu.edu or call 618/453-2354.