Golden Apple Honors Gregory Jones as 2018 Stanley C. Golder Leadership Award Recipient

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Among many accomplishments, Jones’s efforts improved Kenwood Academy High School graduation rate

Golden Apple, a leading Illinois nonprofit committed to developing great teachers, today surprised Gregory Jones, principal of Kenwood Academy High School in Chicago, with the Stanley C. Golder Leadership Award. The award, presented in memory of Stanley C. Golder, a founding board member of Golden Apple, honors exemplary performance in school leadership by a principal or head of school from the Chicagoland area.

Students, community members/parents and colleagues nominate school leaders who have demonstrated remarkable commitment, passion, and results. This is the fifth year that a school leader has been recognized with the Golder Leadership Award. Jones was surprised with the award during a school assembly.

About Gregory Jones
Jones provides exceptional leadership to over 150 staff members and approximately 1800 students in grades 7-12. Despite the challenges of a school with almost 60 percent of its students at poverty level, Kenwood Academy High School has seen impressive achievements since Jones arrived in 2012. In collaboration with teachers and counselors, Jones’s team dramatically improved the graduation rates, and led a college matriculation program that resulted in a significantly larger college-going population. As a leading indicator of future graduation rates, the freshman on-track measure shows that the graduation rate will likely continue to climb in future years.

Greg and his team improved student attendance and redesigned the instructional program that resulted in a very high percentage of students testing well on the SAT. Importantly, he also led Kenwood to reach the highest School Quality Rating Performance of Level 1+. Jones is keenly aware of student progress and makes every effort to help them excel. When students receive either a “D” or “F” in a course, a mandatory meeting takes place with the student, his/her parent(s) and Jones to review the situation and discuss improvements.

He also fosters a strong sense of community at Kenwood. While college readiness is an important message that Jones shares with teachers and students at Kenwood, he also works closely with their parents during Saturday meetings to help them understand the college application process. Jones strongly supports students’ passions and interests. As just one example, a student wanted to bring a dance studio to the high school, and Jones and his team converted half of the prior cafeteria to a dance studio where now a significant number of students participate.

“The vision, energy and commitment that Greg Jones brings to the Kenwood Academy High School community is almost unparalleled,” said Alicia Winckler, president and CEO of Golden Apple. “Greg works tirelessly to create optimal conditions that encourage and support exceptional teaching and student achievement - and the evidence is there - they are delivering results.”

Golden Apple’s selection committee is comprised of educational experts, university leaders, administrators and former Golden Apple Award recipients who use industry and research-based professional standards to identify exemplary educators and school leaders. Members of the selection committee observed finalists at their schools, and also interviewed their colleagues, their direct manager(s), other administrators, students, parents, and community members during the selection process.

Northwestern University provides the Golder Leadership Award recipients with a tuition-free, spring quarter sabbatical to study at Northwestern University. The recipient also receives a cash award of $10,000 with $5,000 going toward the administrator’s professional development and $5,000 to the school for a project of the recipient’s choosing. Award recipients become Fellows of the Golden Apple Academy of Educators, giving them a stronger voice and a larger stage from which to make a difference in education.

Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching recipients also were surprised in their classroom recently. The award, which recognizes and honors outstanding teachers for their role in building a stronger, better-educated society, is given to 10 recipients each year. More information about all award recipients, as well as videos, photos and social media snapshots of the 2018 surprise visits, can be found at

Golder Award recipients, along with the 10 Golden Apple Award for Excellence in
Teaching recipients, will be featured on May 19 on a WTTW one-hour TV program and
livestream marketed to local school communities. To view the livestream, visit

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. Nearly 1,000 Scholars currently are teaching across Illinois.

The organization also offers professional development for teachers at all stages of their careers, through programs like the Golden Apple STEM Institute. In addition, Golden Apple recognizes exceptional educators with its annual Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching and the Stanley C. Golder Leadership Award. Visit for more information.

Media contact:
Kellie Kennedy

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Kellie Kennedy
The Harbinger Group
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