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Program To Aid Aspiring Teachers Expands in Illinois

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The Chicago-based Golden Apple Foundation recently selected the first participants in its statewide expansion of a program designed to help disadvantaged high school students become teachers.

At a Jan. 22 reception, 60 high school seniors from across Illinois were named 1993 Golden Apple Scholars. Previously, only students from the Chicago metropolitan area had been eligible to participate in the four-year-old program, which provides financial assistance and mentoring to aspiring teachers during their college years.

"The expansion is really driven by the idea that we have a good thing and we don't want to be just a drop in the bucket,'' said Patricia Koldyke, the chairman of the scholars' board of advisers.

The foundation was formed in 1986 by Ms. Koldyke's husband, Martin J. Koldyke, the head of a Chicago venture-capital firm. Each year since 1986, it has named 10 top Chicago teachers as "Golden Apple Fellows.''

In 1988, these honorees launched the Golden Apple Scholars program to help promising students from minority groups and low-income backgrounds become teachers.

The foundation helps participating students obtain up to $34,000 in various forms of financial assistance over the course of their undergraduate education at one of 16 Illinois colleges and universities.

The students also participate in an annual summer institute, during which they learn innovative teaching techniques from the fellows and gain classroom experience at inner-city schools.

Thirty-seven of the 60 new scholars are members of minority groups, and a large majority come from low-income families, foundation officials said. Many will also be the first members of their families to attend college, said Victoria Davis, the director of the program.

Foundation leaders say they hope the guidance provided by distinguished teachers will encourage the students to become "mavericks'' when they eventually enter the profession.

"We don't want them to go into the system and become a cog in the wheel,'' Ms. Davis said. "We want them to change the world a little bit.''--M.S.

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