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Golden Apple Honors Chicago Public Schools Principal as 2019 Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Leadership Recipient
[April 03, 2019]

Golden Apple Honors Chicago Public Schools Principal as 2019 Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Leadership Recipient

CHICAGO, April 3, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Golden Apple, a leading Illinois nonprofit committed to recognizing exemplary educators and developing future educators, today surprised Joshua Long, principal of Southside Occupational Academy in Chicago, with the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Leadership, presented in honor of founding Golden Apple board member Stanley C. Golder. This year marked the first time in Golden Apple's history that school leaders from all of Illinois were eligible for nomination.

The Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Leadership honors exemplary performance in school leadership by a principal or head of school who has had a significant and sustained positive impact on the school, created a culture of inclusivity, and delivered dramatic student growth. Fellow educators, students, parents, and community members nominate school leaders for the awards. School leaders may not self-nominate.

"The principal's role is complex. Strong principals, such as Joshua Long, affirm the good people in their buildings, challenge everyone to be their best, and support teachers when they take risks in the best interests of children," said Alan Mather, President of Golden Apple. "Joshua has demonstrated the gifts to lead his school community to build student success."

Leadership award nominations increased 42% over last year and were received from 28 counties. This is the sixth year that Golden Apple has recognized exceptional school leaders with the Excellence in Leadership Award.

"As school leaders, principals put the success of their students first and the support of their teaching staff at the center their work. The power of their leadership is reflected in the perseverance and accomplishments of their students - and the positive engagement and dedication of the teachers who serve them," said Alicia Winckler, Golden Apple CEO. "Golden Apple is proud to recognize the incredibly important work of school leaders with the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Leadership."

About Joshua Long
As principal of Southside Occupational Academy for the past nine years, Joshua Long has been driven by the belief that all students are entitled to a high-quality, individualized education. During this time, he has instituted supports to aid each student's personal journey of gaining the required skills to be successful, functioning members of their communities upon graduation, including establishing the SOA Center and Community Connections (C3) Hub. The SOA C3 Hub is a centralized space for students to prepare for the school day, access public transportation to travel to a community classroom and practice job readiness skills in a real world environent. Long also formed a partnership with Anixter Center and Safer Foundation to co-author a Kessler Signature Employment Grant, which, along with local funds from the Chicago Community Trust, awarded the group $400,000 to bridge the gap from public education to employment for individuals with disabilities. In addition, Long aligned physical education instruction to all available adult sports with inspiration from the Special Olympics in Chicago Park District Adult Special Recreation programs. The school now competes in 22 sports throughout the year, creating a pathway for students and families to continue their involvement in Special Olympics as adults upon graduation.

During his tenure, the school population has grown from 175 to 300 students and the school has expanded from one building to three, with two on one site and the SOA C3 Hub at a separate location. He has worked with school staff to revolutionize classrooms into functional learning labs, led efforts to author a school-wide competency-based curriculum complete with a tablet-based progress monitoring tool, and guided the counseling team to cultivate a school environment focused on restorative practices. This transformation led to the creation of behavioral expectations and establishing a school-wide system of positive behavioral supports.

Prior to becoming principal at Southside Occupational Academy, Long spent 10 years as a Speech Language Pathologist in Chicago Public Schools.

Leadership Award recipients are selected by master educators and school leaders who understand and recognize balanced and collaborative leadership and who utilize professional standards to assess the culture, innovation, and outcomes achieved by exemplary school leaders. Members of the selection committee are previous Award recipients, district and university leaders who conducted on-site observations, interviewed finalists' colleagues including their direct manager(s), other administrators, and teachers as well as those they serve, including students, parents, and community members.

The Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Leadership recipient receives a cash award of $10,000 with $5,000 going toward the leader's professional development and $5,000 to the school for a project of the recipient's choosing. Award recipients also become Fellows of the Golden Apple Academy of Educators, a community of educators who support current and future teachers and deepen the learning of students. An important part of a Fellows' mission is to share their expertise and mentor Golden Apple Scholars, who are aspiring teachers with a desire to teach in Illinois' schools-of-need.

Recently, Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching recipients were surprised in their classrooms. The award, which recognizes and honors outstanding teachers for their role in building a stronger, better-educated society, is given to select recipients each year. More information about all award recipients, as well as videos, photos and social media snapshots of the 2019 surprise visits, can be found at

The 2019 award recipients will be featured on a Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) one-hour TV program. The show will be livestreamed on Golden Apple's Facebook page and will air on multiple dates on PBS.

The nomination period for the 2020 Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching & Leadership opened March 18, 2019. All are invited to nominate an exceptional Pre-K-12th grade school leader and/or 4th-8th grade Illinois teacher. More information about the awards nomination process can be found at

About Golden Apple
Founded in 1985, Golden Apple innovates teacher preparation and leadership to transform both the careers of teachers as well as the lives of students in Illinois. Its signature initiative, the Golden Apple Scholars Program, provides exceptional teacher preparation, resources and lifelong support to advance educational excellence for Illinois' most underserved students in schools-of-need. Aspiring teachers/Scholars are recruited from the communities in which they return to serve -- with a passion for teaching and a drive to create positive change for young people in their communities. Scholars commit to teach at an Illinois school-of-need for five years after graduation. More than 1,000 Scholars currently are teaching across Illinois. Visit for more information.

Media contact: 
Eileen Rochford


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