Golden Apple Honors Stacy Stewart as 2018 Stanley C. Golder Leadership Award Recipient

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Former CPS student and current Belmont-Cragin Elementary School principal emphasizes “grit,” collaborative focus and culture of high expectations

Golden Apple, a leading Illinois nonprofit committed to developing great teachers, today surprised Stacy Stewart, principal of Belmont-Cragin Elementary 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. Stewart was surprised with the award during a school assembly.

About Stacy Stewart
Stacy Stewart has improved learning at Belmont-Cragin Elementary by using an approach that combines personalized learning with dual-language education and social and emotional learning. As the principal of Belmont-Cragin, a school community of 575 students in Pre-K through 8th grade, including more than 90 percent who qualify for the free and reduced meal program and 68 percent English-language learners, she tackles all challenges to ensure that staff and students can achieve.

Stewart, who has led Belmont-Cragin for eight years and has been a CPS employee for 25 years, has persevered and excelled in the current semi-permanent school facility. She diligently pursues a path of success for students and staff. Stewart has secured grants, partnerships and volunteers to provide resources to students and teachers. To close the student achievement gap, she worked with nonprofit LEAP Innovations last year to increase personalized learning practices, with a focus on professional development to prepare teachers for the new instructional approach. The school has improved their designation from a Level 3 rating in 2010 to a Level 1+ in 2017. Belmont-Cragin currently is recognized nationally as an “Ashoka Change Maker” school with a Gold Circle NAEYC Accredited Early Childhood Center. In 2016, the school also earned the “Exemplary Award” for social and emotional learning from CPS.

Collaboration is a key concept that Stewart promotes at Belmont-Cragin. In addition to staff and students, she works closely with parents to bring them into the school family. When immigrant students joined the school, she helped their families find clothes, housing and other resources. She also empowers families to develop their skills and voice in a community that is underdeveloped. As a colleague noted, “She just brings out the best in people.”

“Stacy Stewart’s collaborative spirit and persevering attitude exemplify strong educational leadership that truly transforms communities,” said Alicia Winckler, president and CEO of Golden Apple. “Congratulations to Stacy on her dedication, innovation, and relentless pursuit of excellence for her students and the Belmont-Cragin community.”

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. More than 1,000 Scholars currently are teaching across Illinois. Visit for more information.

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Kellie Kennedy

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Kellie Kennedy
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