Ashley McCall

Chicago Unheard Contributor Ashley McCall Wins a Golden Apple Award

In a virtual surprise ceremony this morning, Golden Apple presented Ashley McCall, a third-grade teacher at Chavez Multicultural Academic Center in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, with the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching. Following a highly competitive process, McCall and her fellow 2021 teaching award recipients were selected from a record-setting 708 nominations of Pre-K-3rd grade teachers. (To meet all the 2021 winners, click here.)

Here’s the video of the surprise!

Chicago Unheard readers are already familiar with McCall through her visionary blog post from last summer, “What If We Radically Reimagined the New School Year?” Despite the challenges of the pandemic, McCall and her teaching partner, Lindsay Singer, have done their best to continue living out the vision of a classroom where students can share their thoughts and feelings related to current issues, from the pandemic to policing to immigration law and more.

Supporting student voice remains at the center of McCall’s teaching. Her students regularly participate in civic engagement. In 2020, they educated their peers and the community about the importance of taking part in the U.S. Census through their project, Everyone Counts/Todos Cuentan.

Throughout the pandemic, McCall has worked closely with Singer, their grade level team and the school’s climate and culture team to sustain as many routines and traditions as possible, giving her students and her colleagues much-needed stability. She also serves on Chavez’s Anti-Racism Committee and created a development session where teachers could reflect on their personal experiences with bias, race and racism.

“These outstanding teachers transform the lives of students, schools, and communities over the course of their careers. Their resilience and perseverance in this past year–and their career–-has been nothing short of amazing,” said Golden Apple President Alan Mather.

McCall and her fellow award winners will each receive a $5,000 cash award and a spring sabbatical provided by Northwestern University at no cost. Award recipients also become Fellows of the Golden Apple Academy of Educators, a community of educators who play an important role in preparing the next generation of teachers in the Golden Apple Scholars and Accelerators programs – which are dedicated to addressing the teacher shortage in Illinois.

The nomination period for the 2022 Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching & Leadership is open. All are invited to nominate exceptional high school teachers and Pre-K-12th grade school leaders in Illinois at

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Maureen Kelleher

Chicago Unheard blog manager Maureen Kelleher also serves as a senior writer and editor at brightbeam, a nonprofit network of education activists demanding a better education and brighter future for every child. Before joining the brightbeam team, she spent a decade as a reporter, blogger and policy analyst. Her work has been published across the education world, from Education Week to the Center for American Progress. A former high school English teacher, she is also the proud mom of a middle-schooler. Find her on Twitter at @KelleherMaureen.

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