Monmouth College hosts scholar institute for 50 aspiring Golden Apple teachers

Monmouth, Ill. (06/14/2022) — Most Monmouth College students have gone home for the summer, but the campus has remained a busy place.

About 160 Golden Scots returned to their alma mater the first weekend in June, and the College is hosting about the same number of individuals throughout June as the Colts Drum and Bugle Corps from Dubuque, Iowa, prepares for its summer tour. In the weeks to come, several summer athletic camps are scheduled.

During the first full week of June, Monmouth hosted 50 students from Illinois colleges and universities and their instructors. It was one of 11 Golden Apple Scholar Institutes held this summer throughout the state.

"The Golden Apple Foundation is dedicated to recruiting teachers for underserved Illinois K-12 schools, and their summer institute is part of their education program for Golden Apple Scholars who are preparing to be teachers," said Monmouth education studies professor Michelle Holschuh Simmons. "We've been working with Golden Apple for a long time at Monmouth, and every year we have about 10 Monmouth students who are Golden Apple Scholars."

Two of those Scots - Molly Parsons '23, Oquawka, Illinois, and Gabi Ramirez '23 of Elmwood, Illinois - participated in the Monmouth scholar institute, which was the equivalent of a 300-level college course.

"We do these scholar institutes for each class of Golden Apple Scholars, so there's an SI 1, a 2, a 3 and a 4 - each with a different focus based on where they're at in the journey," said Heather Monson, a social studies teacher at United Township High School in East Moline, Illinois, and a Golden Apple Fellow. "The 50 scholars who are here will complete 50 hours of assisting teachers in summer school programs. The experience is meant to help develop their career and give them extra skills. It makes them incredibly marketable. Then they commit to teaching in a school in need in the state of Illinois for five years."

Parsons said the institute has been "super helpful."

"It's been nice to be in person with the other scholars and liaisons and leaders," she said. "We get to learn a lot from each other. You get to share your nerves and your excitement. We get to cover a lot of topics that we don't often cover in our college classes. I've learned a lot about professional development and just random little things around the classroom."

For example, the scholars learned about "purposeful seating charts" for their future classrooms, paying attention to such concepts as seating advanced learners near other students who might need help, and seating students who might need to leave the classroom more often than others closer to the door.

The Monmouth institute focused specifically on preparing the scholars for student teaching and using mock interviews to help them get ready for entering the teaching field. A panel discussion included two Monmouth alumni, Bonnie Worthington Johnson '17 and Vanessa Schumacher Witherell '08.

"I believe in this program because I believe that Illinois deserves the best teachers that they can get," said Monson. "I believe that education is the future for us, and that having strong teachers means that we will have a stronger state."

Monmouth's campus was a good fit for the institute.

"Monmouth College has been a wonderful host," said Monson. "We have really enjoyed the campus. The quality of the facilities has been really wonderful for us, and as someone who is doing this for the first time, I've really felt welcomed, and I've felt that Monmouth is a really great fit for us."

Said Simmons: "We were really delighted to bring in a whole group of students from across the state to campus for this scholar institute because it raises the awareness of Monmouth College. It lets people know that we have a great teacher education program here and that we have a beautiful campus. It really is an ideal campus for something like this."

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Included in this group photo are 50 Golden Apple Scholars who participated in a four-day institute on the Monmouth College campus in June. The scholars, who are all students at Illinois colleges and universities, are training to be teachers in the state.