As he addressed his student body this morning, Lindblom principal Alan Mather was surprised to be interrupted by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
"It was an assembly celebrating our seniors and the $34.4 million they've earned in college scholarships this year," said Mather. "I was congratulating the three Golden Apple Scholars from our Class of 2014, when suddenly the mayor was standing behind me."
He then spotted Dom Belmonte, President and CEO of the Golden Apple Foundation.
"I thought maybe one of our teachers had won," he said, "but then I saw my kids, and my dad and brothers. They live in Tennessee, Indiana and Ohio, so I knew something must be up."
That "something" was the inaugural Stanley C. Golder Award – an honor bestowed on principals who have displayed exemplary dedication and leadership. This prestigious award was presented to Principal Mather by the Golden Apple Foundation, which has been advancing the teaching profession in Illinois since 1985.
A nearly 30-year veteran of CPS, Mather has been a part of the District since 1986 when he hitchhiked to Chicago from southern Indiana after graduating from college. He worked as an English teacher and Track coach for 12 years, then moved into administration as assistant principal at Northside College Prep.
In 2005, Mather was given the opportunity to reinvent Lindblom Math & Science Academy, a CPS school that had experienced serious decline. Now ranked among the state's Top 20 schools, Lindblom has a minority population of 97 percent, with over 80 percent of students coming from low-income households. One of the District's nine selective enrollment high schools, it draws talented students from throughout the city and is the top-performing school in Illinois with a majority African-American population.
During Mather's tenure, Lindblom has built the largest Mandarin program in CPS and the largest non-heritage Arabic Studies Program in the United States. It also hosts the Biotechnology Center of Excellence, and has a robotics team that competed nationally in 2013.
As part of the award from Golden Apple, Principal Mather will receive a cash award of $10,000, the majority of which will be used to fund a project of his choosing at Lindblom. Mather will also be honored at the Golden Apple Awards for Excellence in Teaching Gala this fall.
"I'm overwhelmed by this recognition, but I didn't do this alone," said Mather. "I'm privileged to be working in a school with bright students and a committed faculty. It's truly a joy to be here every day."